Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Rivalry: Rangers vs. Islanders - II

From the desks of:

New York Rangers
New York Islanders
Flatbush Avenue Ice House

The Battle for Second Place Begins ... Now:

With the Washington Capitals dominating the Metropolitan Division by a 16 point margin over both the Rangers and Islanders, the battle for second place is on.

The Rangers are in Kings County for only their second ever appearance at Barclays Center.  Their first trip over the bridge came on December 2nd, which ended in a 2-1 shootout loss.  Prior to the Islanders departure from Uniondale, the Rangers last played in Brooklyn way back in 1942 against the Americans.

After Thursday's game, Madison Square Garden will then host the final two meetings of the season series.  If the mid-season standings are an early indication, then the series finale between the Rangers and Islanders on April 7 is shaping up to be one of their more epic clashes in decades.

The Rangers and Islanders enter Thursday's action tied with 51 points apiece.  Therefore, Thursday night's game will be an interesting case study in styles.  The Islanders grind teams down with four lines, whom all know how to throw their weight around.  The Rangers, on the other hand, try to play faster than the physicality.

I think this is a non issue for Isle fans.  I think it's an issue for some Rangers fans, and it's certainly an issue for this one, your truly.

Code Blue:

Midway through the season, the Rangers defense is a mid-level unit.  They're presently ranked 14th in goals against, which is well below their usual standard.  Adding insult to Rangers injury, the Islanders are ranked 12th in goals against, and that's just not something Rangers fans (nor Islanders fans for that matter) are accustomed to.

Don't Look Now, But...

Have the Islanders finally gotten over their long suffering Achilles heal?  Don't look now, but they are ranked #2 on the penalty kill.  That's been Coach Capuano's pet peeve for years, and one of the few, yet most self-destructive Islanders shortcomings these last few seasons.

Henrik the Busy:

Jaroslav Halak will be making his 23rd start Thursday.  Back-up Thomas Greiss has made 20 starts of his own.  Meanwhile, Henrik Lundqvist has made all but 8 starts for the Rangers.  In 34 starts, he owns 19 wins, a .920 SV% and a 2.49 GAA.  Combined, Halak and Greiss have posted 23 victories, with a .923 SV% and a 2.27 GAA.

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