Hottest Ticket In Town - Islanders - Rangers Pre-Game!
The New York Islanders went from potential playoff contenders to looking towards next season within 48 hours earlier this week.
Having the best team in the Eastern Conference coming into your building after being shutout in their last game, isn’t what the doctor ordered.
After two terrible performances against Ottawa and Buffalo on Monday and Tuesday, the Islanders welcome in their cross-river rivals the New York Rangers on Friday Night.
The Rangers are leading the Eastern Conference with 81 points, 7 points ahead of both New Jersey and Boston. They travel to Long Island after being blanked by the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 on Tuesday night. Henrik Lundqvist continued his stellar play making 29 saves in the losing effort. After an 8-1-1 stretch, the Rangers have lost two of their last three games.
The Islanders are the polar opposite of their rivals. The team was hovering around .500 for a couple of week, but two losses earlier this week put them in a deep hole in the playoff picture. They currently sit tied for last in the conference with Montreal and Carolina, but only 8 points behind now 8th place Florida. One of the teams ahead of them in the standings, Buffalo, survived a furious last five minutes from the Islanders on Tuesday and held on for a 2-1 victory. Kevin Poulin started for the Islanders, a day after being pulled within 95 seconds after Ottawa scored two goals on five shots. He made 35 saves and had a strong bounce-back effort. Frans Nielsen had the only Isles goal.
For tonight’s game, the Islanders have brought up Casey Cizikas from Bridgeport as it looks like Center Josh Bailey is battling spasms in his back and is questionable to play against the Rangers. Cizikas has been a key player in Bridgeports 16-1-1 stretch since the beginning of the calendar year. He was named AHL player of the month for January. He has 15 goals and 29 assists in 51 games this season for Bridgeport.
In other injury news, Travis Hamonic may make his long-awaited return to the lineup on Friday night, nearly three weeks after breaking his nose when a puck hit his face against Buffalo Feb. 4. Evgeni Nabokov will likely make the start in goal. He missed the last four games with the flu. The Islanders were 1-3-0 in those games, yielding an average of 4 goals against. Nabokov is 14-14-0 with a sparkling 2.24 goals-against and a 9.30 save-percentage, tops among Islanders goaltenders.
Throw out the records when these two teams play, expect a well-fought intense game on Friday night.
Playoffs are likely out of reach but as an Islanders fan you want at least 1 night to be able to say ‘Go Home Rangers!’ I have a good feeling, don’t know why, Nabby and Hamonic contribute, Islanders win 3-2.
Don't forget to check back all day Monday for our extensive trade deadling coverage!