Any game against the hated Rangers always carries a little extra umph for the Islanders but tonight's contest at The Garden has more weight than at first glance and could make a huge difference for the Isles as they continue to move up the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings.
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The Islanders, fresh off a 3-2 shootout victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators, can slide themselves into second place in the Atlantic Division (just a point behind Philadelphia for first) and into 4th in the conference with a victory this evening. On top of that, they have the chance to take the first four games in the season series against their archrivals - always a bonus, both for the psychological advantage over the opponent later on in the year as playoff time approaches, as well as in the current division standings.
As they (finally) approach the 25-game mark of the season, usually a solid indicator of how things will end up at year's end, the Islanders' goal should be to be atop the Atlantic Division.
Why not them?
They've shown us thus far that they belong, at least, in the mix. Over the span of the next three games, the opportunity is there to show us that they can be so much more than that.
Seizing that opportunity can begin tonight with a very familar foe ...
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