Islanders @ Rangers
Madison Square Garden
7:00 p.m. Friday
Rangers record: 15-11-1
Islanders record: 5-13-5
Earlier this week, Brandon Dubinsky playfully remarked that the upcoming home-and-home series against the Islanders would be “like playing two home games.” Over in the Islanders’ locker room, goalie Rick DiPietro countered with his own comments on the opposing team: “I truly don’t like the Rangers.” Both comments proved to be prophetic in last night’s game on the Island as the Rangers, buoyed by the large contingency of Blushirts fans at Nassau Coliseum, demonstrated exactly why DiPietro dislikes playing against the New York Rangers.
Marian Gaborik’s second hat trick of the season put the final touch on the Rangers’ rollicking, 6-5 win against the Islanders. Coach Tortorella had made the decision prior to this game to try out Sean Avery in Alex Frolov’s position on the Rangers’ top line, and it certainly paid off. In the past, Avery has played well when having responsibility thrust upon him, and last night was no exception. After being relatively quiet for the past several games, Avery played a phenomenal game on his new line while earning three assists, generating numerous other scoring opportunities, and forcing a frustrated Rick DiPietro to make some key saves. Avery’s line combined for four goals and nine points on the night.
One can safely say that this line is definitely going to stay together for Friday night’s rematch at Madison Square Garden. The Brandon Dubinsky – Derek Stepan – Ryan Callahan line, which was responsible for the team’s second goal of the game, is also expected to stay intact. Todd White, however, may end up with a spot in the line-up in place of either Derek Boogaard or a slumping Alex Frolov. Henrik Lundqvist, who replaced Marty Biron in net after the Islanders scored three unanswered goals, will start tonight against the Isles’ Dwayne Roloson.
At a glance, another win tonight against the Isles seems like it should be a given. The Islanders have once again sunk to dead last in the NHL with a measly fifteen points, having won only one game in their past sixteen contests. What’s more, the Rangers are undefeated in the second of back-to-back games this season. However, despite the fact that they ended up losing last night’s game, the Islanders proved that they’re still a force to be reckoned with—against the Rangers, at least. Prior to last night’s game, the Islanders had only scored more than two goals in a game once this season; last night, they scored five. And Islanders’ left winger Blake Comeau scored his first goal since October 11th, a game which the Islanders won 6-4—against the Rangers.
Rangers-Islanders matchups are always made more exciting by the intensity of the rivalry between these two teams, and tonight’s game is going to be no different. Even so, despite the Blueshirts’ outpouring of offense last night, the fact remains that the Islanders still managed to score five goals, and the Rangers must tighten up on defense in order to come away with another win.