NEW YORK — The NHL is full of cookie-cutter arenas, multi-purpose facilities that look pretty much the same, no matter where they are located.
And then there is Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which is unlike any other NHL venue.
Probably because it wasn’t conceived as a hockey building.
The Penguins faced the New York Islanders there Tuesday night for the first time, which means it was their first opportunity to see the sports-utility vehicle parked along the glass in one end zone and the scoreboard that isn’t even close to being centered over the neutral zone.
“Definitely some unique features,” defenseman Ian Cole said.
The arena was built for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets; the Islanders moved there in 2015, after they were unable to negotiate a new lease at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale.
Veteran center Matt Cullen likened the venue’s asymmetry to that of America West Arena (US Airways Center) in Phoenix, long-ago home of the Coyotes.
“I like it, actually,” he said. “It’s kind of a cool atmosphere. Something different. It’s just a unique place.”
What actually isn’t unique, at least for guys who have played internationally, is the car along the glass. Title sponsors often place a car there for events such as the world championships.
“As soon as I saw it, it reminded me of that,” Cullen said.
Left winger Chris Kunitz said that, once the game began, Barclay Center’s quirks would be irrelevant to the players — “You [couldn’t] care less” — and all concerned seemed most happy that they would be operating on a standard 200-foot-by-85-foot sheet of ice.
That’s not a given in college hockey, where rink sizes can vary dramatically.
“I’d rather have a car in the corner and the scoreboard over the blue line,” Cole said, “than have a rink that’s the size of a football field.”
Hagelin out again
Penguins left winger Carl Hagelin, struck in the head in the 4-2 loss Saturday against Calgary, sat out his second consecutive game, but coach Mike Sullivan said he has not been diagnosed with a concussion.
“He hasn’t been diagnosed with anything,” Sullivan said. “It’s more our medical staff believes that, for precautionary reasons, we’re going to hold him out.
“He’s improving each day, and he’ll be a day-to-day, game-to-game decision. But I don’t think it’s going to be any length of time.”
Fehr, Bennett nearly ready
Injured forwards Eric Fehr and Beau Bennett participated in the game-day skate, and Sullivan said they could return to the lineup as early as Friday, when the Penguins visit Columbus.
“They’re getting close,” he said. “They were involved in contact today, which is the final step for them.”
The return of Bennett and/or Fehr might mean rugged winger Tom Sestito is running out of time to persuade management to keep him on the NHL roster.
Sestito, call up Sunday from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, played in his second game Tuesday night, and is the only enforcer on the franchise’s National and American league rosters.
“My window, you can see it’s closing,” Sestito said. “I just have to bring an element with my game and help the team win.
“I don’t think there are many guys who play the way I do. If I can help the team win and play like that every night and maybe generate some power plays for the team, maybe I can stick around.”
Outdoor date set
The Penguins’ outdoor game against Philadelphia next season is expected to be played Feb. 18, 2017 at Heinz Field. The date for that game, as well as other NHL outdoors events, could be announced as early as today. The Penguins will play an outdoor game in Philadelphia in some future season.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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