From the desks of:
RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS and BROOKLYN'S FOSTER HOCKEY CLUB
The Rivalry - IV
Islanders lead series 3-0
I - NYI 6; NYR 3
II - NYI 3; NYR 0
III - NYI 4; NYR 1
IV - TONIGHT
MONDAY NIGHT HOCKEY
New York Rangers
New York Islanders
Long Island Ice House
The magic/tragic number has been three: In three games this season, the Islanders have recorded three wins over the Rangers, all by 3-goal margins of victory.
Goalie Jaroslav Halak (t-2nd) trails Nashville's Pekka Rinne by two victories for the league lead.
He is one victory away from tying the Islanders single-season record of 32-wins set by Billy Smith in 1981-82, and tied by Chris Osgood in 2001-02.
The Isles are 6-4 in their last 10 games without Kyle Okposo. They are riding a 4-game win streak entering tonight's game in Long Island. However, they experienced a pair of big conference losses to the Bruins, and one loss each against the Red Wings and Panthers.
For the moment, the Isles own a 2-point lead over the Pens in the Metro Division, and 4-points over the Rangers. They trail the Habs and Lightning for the conference lead by a point.
Long Island is second in scoring behind the Lightning in the conference, and 4th in the NHL, but the PK is now ranked 30th in the NHL, and their overall defense is 22nd.
Despite Okposo's absence, he still leads the team with 30 assists. The Islanders have 8 players with double digit goals.
Due to the recent combined play of Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin, and Chris Kreider, the Rangers now have 7 players with double digit goals. With only 65 SOG, Kevin Hayes (15.4%) is second behind Rick Nash (17.2%) in scoring percentage.
The Rangers sport the NHL's 3rd rated offense, and the 4th ranked defense. Their PP is 9th, and the PK is 13th.
The Blueshirts are 3-0 during their current road trip that ends tonight in Long Island. Since Henrik Lundqvist went down, back up goalie Cam Talbot is 4-1-1 in his absence. Talbot has appeared in 17 games and made 15 starts this season. He owns an 8-5 record, with a .918 Sv%, and a 2.35 GAA.
Since these teams last met, the Rangers have posted a 9-3-1 record, with losses to top teams such as the Isles, Habs, Predators, and Stars. They enter tonight's game winners of three in a row with victories over discombobulated Toronto, last place Colorado, and even worse Phoenix (sorry, that's just the way I see it). However, they posted a very strong, physical victory over Boston on Feb. 4th.
Rick Nash's 33 goals are second behind league leader Alex Ovechkin's 35 goals. He leads the Rangers with 206 shots on goal, while the next closes players is Carl Hagelin with 126 SOG.
Derick Brassard, 27, is in the midst of his best season ever. His career year came in 2010-11 with Columbus, when he scored 17 goals, with 30 assists, for 47 points, but posted a -11 for the season. This year, he is up to 13 goals, and has tied his career high of 30 assists. He is a +10 so far this season, and is second on the team with 43 points. He leads the team with 11 PP assists.
The Rangers are sandwiched between the Red Wings and Caps for the Eastern Conference 6th seed.
They also have games in hand versus both the Islanders and the Caps.
The Rangers last game against the Coyotes was Alain Vigneault's 500th career victory, ranking him 20th on the all-time list.