Jan
20

First round date with the Islanders feels like destiny

January 20, 2016, by
In the immortal words of William Wallace: "Are you ready for a war!?"

In the immortal words of William Wallace: “Are you ready for a war!?”

There are still 36 games left in the 2015-2016 regular season, but thanks to the new playoff format, it’s not too difficult to forecast some playoff matchups.

The Washington Capitals hold an 18-point lead for the Metro Division crown and would all but have to go on a three-week team vacation to the Maldives to give any of their rivals a chance at catching them. Behind them, just a point separates the the Rangers and Islanders as the current No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. The two clubs are likely to jockey back and forth for position down the stretch, but it seems like fate that they will clash in the opening round of the 2016 postseason.

For all the despair surrounding the Rangers, they are still a significantly better team than any of the Devils, Penguins, Flyers or Hurricanes, who have clustered to within seven points of the Blueshirts. Those foes may keep things interesting the rest of the way, but each club has massive problems of its own and will have trouble keeping pace.

For frustrating though the results may be, the Rangers are slowly coming around. Since the December 22 overtime victory over Anaheim, the Rangers have gone toe to toe with some of the league’s best and secured impressive victories over the Lightning, Stars and Bruins. They’ve barely played .500 hockey, but both the eye test and #fancystats indicate marked improvement.

The biggest key is of course Henrik Lundqvist, who suffered through a brutal December but is back to making jaw-dropping saves with regularity. In addition to The King, several other key Blueshirts have begun to find their game, including: Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller, Derek Stepan, and even Chris Kreider. The team still has a couple two-ton anchors holding it back, but the improvement that will come from other players once again pulling their weight will help to mitigate those problems.

As for the matchup itself, it’s only fitting that New York’s hockey team introduces its old rival to the big city with a playoff war – gasoline on the fire of this classic rivalry that Commissioner Gary Bettman could only dream of.

The Rangers have fallen to the Islanders in Brooklyn in both of their tilts so far this season, a 2-1 shootout loss on December 2 just as New York’s swoon was beginning, and a 3-1 loss on Thursday. For 40 minutes in the most recent bout, the Rangers were the better team in a spirited affair, but as has become the norm of late, brain-dead mistakes cost them a victory.

Despite the Blueshirts’ recent struggles, you still have to feel decent about their chances against their new neighbors in a best-of-seven series. New York maintains the clear edge in goal and has significantly more experience – the Islanders have won just six playoff games since the lockout, compared to the Rangers’ 54.

This showdown would likely go the distance and be decided in a classic Game Seven, but the Battle for New York could be a whole lot of fun.

"First round date with the Islanders feels like destiny", 4 out of 5 based on 9 ratings.
Categories : Playoffs

15 comments

  1. SalMerc says:

    Not an easy team to contend with as their speed can make our defense look slower and older than they actually are. We can beat them, but the boys need to play 60 minutes all out. The Isles are hungry and we need the same voracity.

  2. amy says:

    the schedule makers had the right idea but for the rangers to beat the isles they need to stay out of the box and play smart will see in March what happens next

  3. joe719 says:

    Right now, they would lose that matchup. Especially if the Isles can work a deal for Eric Staal to play on a line with Tavares, They play hard every shift, and they would love nothing more than to once again knock NY off its pedestal as they did in the 70’s.

  4. SC says:

    you are essentially a moron just like most of my fellow Rangers fans. Do you understand IF the Rangers make the playoffs the Islanders will EMBARRASS them? Only way for the Rangers to salvage this season is by missing the playoffs and getting a 1st round pick back. Playing the Islanders is pure suicide. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a complete moron. By rooting for this matchup you are essentially rooting for the Islanders to win their first series since 93 and their first Cup since 83. Way to root for the Islanders. Best interest for the Rangers would be to miss the playoffs but you fans are highly delusional and selfish.

  5. Jake W. says:

    I’m all for it! LGR!

  6. JoeS. says:

    Is today March 20th? Did I miss two months of the season?

  7. Bloomer says:

    The Rangers first goal should be to make the playoffs. At that point, they should be in it to win it. Should they meet up with the fish sticks in the first round, the Rangers playoff experience, goaltending and skating will carry them into the next round.

  8. 43 says:

    Totally unrelated here, but what do y’all think of the whole Drouin situation now that he has decided to not be a part of the Lightning organization in any capacity? Doesn’t seem like Yzerman can command players of Yandle’s caliber now that looks like Drouin has some attitude issues. What do you think teams would be willing to invest in him now?

    • Alec says:

      You’re supposed to be a pro, act like one. Lit it up in Syracuse his 1st game, mailed it in after that. That really ups your trade value. Has to be a top 6 forward, won’t do it in Tampa.

  9. 43 says:

    If we beat the fish sticks in the first round and then get swept in the next, to me, it would still be a successful playoff run.

  10. rufus says:

    Hmmm…I’m a Blue thru and thru, but what part of the last 20 games makes any of you actually think that 3rd place or 2nd (!) is guaranteed? I think we are closer to not making the 8 then being in the playoffs.