New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders, 7:00 PM at Madison Square Garden
Where To Watch: MSG Network
Where To Listen: 1050 ESPN Radio
Live In-Game Chat: 6:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
Tonight at The Garden the Rangers (42-18-7, 91 pts) open up their longest homestand of the season---a string of seven consecutive games played on home ice, covering the next 13 days---when they host the Islanders (28-31-9, 67 pts). The Rangers are hoping that a good dose of home-cooking will help cure their recent woes. For the first time this season the Rangers have lost three straight games in regulation, surrendering four goals in each while being outscored by a composite 12-5 total. Poor decision-making, untimely turnovers, and a bad bounce or two have plagued the Blueshirts in the past week, though it seemed that the club regained its physical edge despite a 4-3 defeat Friday night in Chicago. To a man the players and coaches thought that performance most closely mirrored the team the Rangers have been most of the season, yet a couple late mistakes and unfortunate turn of events ended with pucks in the back of their net as Chicago potted three goals in the final period of play. Both Brandon Dubinsky and Michael Del Zotto missed the game Friday due to injuries. Both are hopeful of playing Sunday against the Islanders, but nothing is definite as of yet. Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in goal against the Islanders. Lundqvist, who is 1-2-1 in his last four starts, has allowed at least three goals in each of those four starts since backstopping a 2-0 shutout over the Devils on February 27th. However, his goals against average is still a sterling 1.87 (third best in the NHL) and his save percentage is .936 (second best in the league). The Islanders enter play coming off Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Devils in which the Isles surrendered two goals in the final two minutes to fall to 3-6-1 in their last ten games.
This is the sixth and final meeting between the Rangers and Islanders this season. The Rangers are 3-2-0 against their Long Island rivals, winning both games played previously at Madison Square Garden---4-2 behind Brandon Dubinsky's two-point outing on December 22nd and 3-0 on Henrik Lundqvist's 28-save shutout four days later. The Islanders last win at The Garden came on December 26, 2009 when they handed the Rangers a 3-2 overtime defeat.
"I have all the belief in this team. I have seen us play against anybody, and compete, and win. I hope everyone feels the same way I do. We are a strong group and we know what our strengths and abilities are. It's just a matter of getting back to that, and we will do that."-Ryan McDonagh
By The Numbers
Brad Richards scored his 19th goal of the season Friday night against the Blackhawks, leaving him one short of his third straight 20-goal campaign. Over the first ten years of his NHL career Richards has amassed eight 20-goal seasons, heading into the 2011-12 campaign. Richards also has seven points over his last eight games (1-6-7) coming into play Sunday.
Artem Anisimov potted his 14th goal Friday night, leaving him four shy of his single-season career-best of 18 goals set last season. Anisimov has scored three goals in his last six games, and has seven in his last 18 matches.
Will the Rangers bounce back and start the homestand on a winning note Sunday? Share your prediction below.