Okposo Set To Return For Last Islanders/Rangers Game of the Regular Season

The New York Islanders will have a welcomed face back in the line-up tonight as Kyle Okposo is set to return as they take on the New York Rangers for the last time at Nassau Coliseum tonight.

This will also be the last time that these two teams will meet, barring a match-up in this year’s playoffs.

Okposo has missed the last six weeks of the season due a detached retina that required immediate surgery. According to Newsday, the surgery was so serious that he was unsure of whether or not his vision would have officially been restored to his eye.

Fortunately it has, and after recovering from the surgery, the team doctors have given him the ‘okay’ to play tonight; and it couldn’t have come at a much more exciting time than just before an Islanders/Rangers match-up that’s perhaps the most crucial game of the season for both hockey clubs.

Since neither of these two teams will meet again during the regular season, the game’s value has increased. The Rangers are a mere three points behind the Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division with four games in hand.

A loss tonight by the Islanders would bring the Rangers one point behind first place while still withholding the extra four games.

A win tonight by the Islanders would put them five points ahead of the Rangers. Although there are still 14 games remaining in the Islanders’ season, to earn two points over a division rival that is salivating at the opportunity to jump them in the standings would be monumental.

And of course, this is the last time that Islanders and Rangers fans will be verbally bashing each other, as well as the teams, at the Madhouse on the Meadowbrook.

However, one would almost have to assume that the hockey gods plan on ensuring a match-up between these two teams at some point this post-season. After all, this is the first time that the two New York hockey teams have been nearly neck-and-neck for first place in their division in a very long time.

Throw in the fact that the Islanders have been surpassing and tying records that they haven’t set in over thirty years. In case you are wondering, I am referring to the Stanley Cup winning teams that brought forth a dynasty of championships on Long Island.

It would be poetic justice for the Rangers to visit the Islanders for a potential seven-game match-up in the playoffs with this being the last and final opportunity for it ever to happen in front of the residents of Long Island.

Although I cannot speak for an entire fan base, one would have to assume that Rangers fans might feel the same way (and secretly want the same thing).

But the focus tonight is solely on one game. Fortunately, Jack Capuano and his coaching staff will have Okposo back in the line-up. Capuano has already stated that he will not be playing on the top line and that most of the lines will be juggled throughout the night.

Despite Okposo likely being eager to resume his role as a top line forward alongside John Tavares, it is likely in his best interest for the coaching staff to ease him into his normal playing time after being out for as long as he has been.

The puck drops at the ol’barn at 7 PM.

-Rob McGowan

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