When was the last time the Rangers and Islanders played a meaningful regular season game this late in the seaseon? I honestly can’t remember. The Islanders had been a laughing stock franchise due to Mike Milbury, and before the 2004 lockout the Rangers were a laughing stock. The rivalry was in name only. That is no more.
The Isles are atop the Metro Division with a 28-13-1 record. The Rangers are fourth in the Metro at 24-11-4, but have three games in hand on the Isles. This is one of those precious four-point swing games that would move the Rangers to within three points of the Isles with those three games in hand. A loss puts them nine points back and three games in hand.
What have they done lately?
The Isles have gone on a tear lately, and while not matching the Rangers 13 of 14 run, they are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. They are still scoring a ton of goals (131), but are allowing a lot as well (116). Their +15 goal differential is sixth in the conference. The Rangers, meanwhile, have 124 goals for and have allowed 95 goals for a 29 goal differential in three fewer games.
The Isles are a fantastic puck possession team, and have been steadily above 52% all year (five-game rolling average):
But, they’ve had some poor luck lately, which means they could be due for an uptick in wins. All things considered, that’s pretty scary:
Here’s how the Isles and Rangers compare over five-game averages this season in Fenwick:
This game is going to be a dogfight. Both teams are fast, skilled, and potent offensively. I think they are equally skilled, with the Isles having more top end talent and the Rangers a bit deeper. The Rangers have the edge defensively and in net.
Like the Rangers, Capuano has the Isles running a 1-2-2 forecheck and a 1-1-3 lock, which they use aggressively or conservatively depending on the game situation (e.g., score, time left in period, etc.). In the defensive zone, the Isles are bit different than the Blueshirts. Capuano has them playing man-on-man up high, but collapse into a zone defense when the puck is down low. On special teams, the Isles rotate between a 1-3-1 and 1-2-2 power play and a hybrid penalty kill.
Henrik Lundqvist is in net tonight.
Be sure to check out our ticket link if you’re looking for tickets to the game.
Game time is 7pm on MSG.