Tale of the Tape
NYR 11-8-2 NYI 10-11-2
Goals For: NYR 2.52 NYI 2.96
Goals Against: NYR 2.43 NYI 3.39
Special Teams: NYR PP 14.7%(24th) NYR PK 83.3%(11th)
NYI PP 23.1% (5th) NYI PK 82.7% (14th)
Rangers Road Record 2-4-1
Islanders Home Record 4-8-1
Season Series: 1-1 (4-1(NYR) February 7th , 4-3(SO)(NYI) February 14th)
Currently Riding: NYR 3W NYI 2W
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Brad Boyes
Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Marty Reasoner - Eric Boulton
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Colin McDonald
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald
Mark Streit – Joe Finley
Thomas Hickey – Radek Martinek
If you had told anyone at the start of the year that you believed the Islanders and the Rangers would be battling for 8th they would have said you’re crazy, but here we are.
The Rangers come into this game riding a three game win streak and the Isles a two game win streak. The Rangers have lost Marc Staal indefinitely after a nasty puck to the face against Philadelphia and Brad Richards status is unknown for tonight.
The Islanders have a chance to grab two points in a very important hockey game with Richards(potentially) and Staal out. Given the rivalry between the two teams it will most likely be a hard fought battle throughout the game. The last meeting between the two ended in a 4-3 SO win for the Islanders after the Isles dropped a 4-1 decision on February 7th.
1.Put Pressure On NYR D: With Marc Staal out that leaves a gaping hole on the blueline for the Rangers and is something the Islanders will have to focus on exploiting. Roman Hamrlik is not an adequate replacement for Staal.
2.Balanced Attack: Much like the game against Montreal, the Islanders need to roll their lines and keep their top players fresh. Tavares looked better against Montreal but one more game of line rolling won’t hurt the future Captain.
3.Make Use Of PP: The Isles have to put the 5th ranked PP to work. The PP helped them out in a huge way against Montreal and they need it to be alive and well again tonight. The Rangers are one of the least penalized teams in the NHL so the opportunities that the Islanders get will need to be taken advantage of.
An Islanders win in regulation and a Flyers loss in regulation puts Long Island in the 8th seed at the halfway mark, giving them hope for the first playoff berth of John Tavares’ career. I’m not here to say the Islanders are going to compete for the Cup if they get in. An Islanders playoff berth would mean the world in experience for a young Tavares moving forward as a leader on this team.
That being said, there are 24 regular season games left for the Isles after tonight’s match-up and, win or lose, that means there is a long road ahead to get into the post-season.
The focus has got to be on working the New York Rangers defencemen with Marc Staal out of the lineup. Staal logs big, important minutes for the Rangers and they will feel his absence but it’s up to the Islanders to decide how much they feel it.
The lines being rolled against Montreal allowed all units to get some chances and contribute. Matt Martin was a force for the Islanders against the Habs and will have to continue his hit parade against New York. No one expects Martin to tally a goal and an assist, but the expectations for his physical game have been increasing all season long.
It all boils down to a divisional rivalry that means more than usual tonight with the 8th seed up for grabs. Both teams are looking to extend their streaks and both teams should come out hard tonight. Looking forward to a great game.
Thanks for reading, you can find me on twitter @chiassontb during the game today if you want to chat.