The Rangers won the first, but are coming off a devastating third period loss against Toronto.
The Islanders lost the first, but are coming off an overtime victory against the Blue Jackets.
Two teams going in opposite directions? Not yet, but this game could determine such a thing.
Let's not get brash, it's one win for the Islanders and one loss for the Rangers, which is not enough to forget what each has done to this point in the season. The same reason you saw no mention of the debacle in the third period against Toronto, it's a hiccup, not a tragedy.
But as we all know and love, the Rangers - Islanders rivalry is renewed tonight at Madison Square Garden.
From the Islanders perspective, they have nothing to lose. The Rangers defeated them at home, so there will be a need for revenge. They have played better of late and will look to carry that momentum into Manhattan. Playing a quick and pressure game and keeping the Rangers special teams at bay will be very important.
For the Rangers, they have a bit more to lose. It's a home game against arguably their biggest rival. They need to recover from their last loss and show that they are indeed a complete team. Early will be key. The Rangers need to get to the young squad early on and maintain a physical game. Back-to-back is never easy so the Rangers have to wear the Islanders out in order to have success.
Yesterday, the Rangers fooled with some new line changes (again).
Naslund - Gomez - Callahan
Dawes - Drury - Prucha
Voros - Dubinsky - Zherdev
Sjostrom - Betts - Orr
These lines are the most balanced that the Rangers have. While Dan Fritsche and Pat Rissmiller will be sitting, you can see the parity and equity amongst these lines. Which line is the first? Which is the third? You can make an argument for all of them.
My predictions: Petr Prucha scores his first goal tonight. Wade Redden has a big game. Dubinsky has a stand out performance. The Isles Joey "Big Mac" and Mike Comrie also have strong games.
More to come...
(photo from NY Times)
Posted On Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at at 7:58 AM by Woodside Acres