New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders, 7:00 PM at The Nassau Coliseum
Where To Watch: MSg Network
Where To Listen: 1050 ESPN Radio
Live In-Game Chat: 6:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
The Rangers (38-15-5, 81 pts) and Islanders (25-27-8, 58 pts) meet for the first time in two months this evening, but don't expect this to be a case of absence making the hearts grow fonder. When it comes to Rangers and Islanders, the rivalry is bitter and the emotions run high, both on the ice and in the stands. Expect tonight to be no different when the fifth edition of New York-New York takes place tonight. The Rangers have lost two of three entering the game, coming off Tuesday's 2-0 shutout defeat in Pittsburgh. The Blueshirts have lost only 15 games in regulation this season, but they have been shut out in six of those defeats. In fact they have been blanked in three of their last six regulation losses. However their chief concern tonight is not so much goal scoring, it is more about getting a better start to the game---something the coaches and players feel was lacking in Pittsburgh, as well several other games recently. Head coach John Tortorella shot down the notion raised on Thursday that his club is tired and instead emphasized that his club needs to recapture playing a "hard" style. More production on the power play---0-12 the past three games, and just 1-15 in the last five contests---could jumpstart the Rangers, as well. As for the Islanders, they have moved out of the cellar in the Eastern Conference and were as close as six points to the final playoff spot in the East earlier in the week. However a 6-0 loss to the Senators and a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Sabres this week hurt the Isles upward momentum.
Tonight marks the fifth of six meetings this season between the Rangers and Islanders. After dropping a 4-2 decision to the Islanders in the season's third game, the Rangers have reeled off three wins in a row over the Isles, outscoring their suburban neighbors 11-4 along the way. The Blueshirts have won seven of their last nine games overall against the Islanders. This season Marian Gaborik has scored three goals in the season series while both Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky have contributed four points apiece.
"We enter (tonight's) game trying to have a much better start because that's really important. And from there we're going to try and keep the momentum on our side. I've read some things about our team being tired. Our team is not tired. We are in shape, very well conditioned, and everyone has to go through a full schedule. It's a mindset, and it's very important this time of year to make sure your mindset is right there. That's the consistency we need to have."-John Tortorella
By The Numbers
Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron have combined to appear in 67 career games against the Islanders (40-Lundqvist, 27-Biron), posting a combined goals against average of just above two goals per game, while compiling a 44-15-6 record and six shutouts.
Former Ranger P.A. Parenteau is tied for 20th in the NHL's scoring race with 54 points (12-42-54) in 60 games. He has already surpassed his previous career-high of 53 points set last season with the Isles.
So who will win Friday's New York-New York showdown? Share your prediction below.