Lets Hear It For New York! Islanders/ Rangers Pre Game
‘Love is in the air tonight’ as the New York Islanders and New York Rangers square off in the first of six high intensity meetings.
The first meeting between the teams last year was a heart-pounding 6-4 win for the Isles’. Former Ranger, P.A Parenteau had the game-winning goal.
The Isles’ come in to the tilt with two straight wins, the most recent a 5-1 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The first line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Parenteau had eight points combined and will need to play at the same intensity tonight vs the Rangers.
A surprise decision by Isles’ coach Jack Capuano is giving Evgeni Nabokov his first start in an Islanders uniform. Al Montoya was 2-1-0 in his first three games and was playing some of the best hockey of his young NHL career. Capuano said he was going with a wild card for tonight’s all important rivalry game. He does tend to go with his hunch on making crucial lineup decision. If it works out great, he it will be lauded as a great decision, if Nabakov plays poorly then fans and armchair quarterbacks alike will wonder about taking out the hot goalie for someone almost two years removed from the league.
Enforcer Trevor Gillies was removed from IR but as of this post, is still a game time decision. Isles’ fans want him in the lineup to protect the top line guys, most of whom have had a lot of liberties taken against them.
The Rangers started their season in Sweden losing two tough games, one in overtime to the Los Angeles Kings and one in shootout to the Anaheim Ducks. Brad Richards has a goal and a assist so far and gives the Rangers a new weapon and allows sniper Marian Gaborik to make plays, not create them. They pose a significant threat to the Isles’ young defense core. You should see a lot of Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald against the top guns for the Rangers.
Defense has also been an unheralded position for the ‘other’ New York team. The Isles’ do catch a break that Dan Girardi and Mark Staal, two of the most underrated players in the league will not be on the ice together tonight. They are shut down defensemen and keep opposing forwards and bay anytime they are together on the ice. Staal is still bother by post concussion syndrome after being hit last season, ironically by his own brother Eric. Mike Sauer will also miss the game for the Rangers on defense.
Henrik Lundqvist is the man in ‘net and always gives the Isles’ problem. When he is on his game, shutouts and frustration ensue. He has won 5 out his last 7 starts against them posting a 2.58 GAA.
The ‘old barn’ will be rocking in about 90 minutes as these two long time rivals square off. Should be a high emotion game in front of a sellout crowd. Evan Pinick will be here tonight for the post-game recap.