The NY Islanders have to use the UBS Arena crowd to fuel them in the right ways
Having home ice is the playoffs an advantage, and should be a significant one.
But at times, different circumstances can make playing in front of the home fans a disadvantage. Sometimes that can be the pressure of accomplishing something you are expected to but haven't proven that you can do (see: Toronto Maple Leafs) can be palpable for the team on the ice.
A home playoff crowd can be tense, and that tension grows with every scoring opportunity missed, every trip to the penalty box, and every turnover. The enthusiasm that is there at the start of the game as the team takes the ice is replaced by anxiety that this might just not be your team's night.
But that's not how the team is feeling about Game 6. They expect the home crowd to be louder than they were for Games 3 and 4 and to provide a boost that offers a decisive edge and helps overwhelm the Carolina Hurricanes. They haven't been able to do that this series outside of a playoff history making two minutes and 18-second stretch at the end of Game 3.
"I would expect even louder. Before opening drop, it’s loud, and even throughout the game, they’re into it. It’s up to us to give something to cheer about. You gotta get them excited. It goes both ways, and we feed off them, and they feed off us."- Zach Parise about the GM 6 atmosphere
The Islanders have to ensure that the home crowd juice fuels them in all the right ways and doesn't have them too amped up where they are playing too aggressively and undisciplined. Those unintended consequences came in the form of penalties that stalled early momentum and gave Carolina opportunities on the power play that they converted to deflate the team and the crowd.
If the Islanders are able to control their emotions and find the right balance between being physical and staying out of the box, they should be able to keep it an even-strength game. When they've done that throughout the series they've shown that they can own the better of the play and prevent special teams from being a deciding factor along with their boisterous home fans.