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Surging Rangers Search For Seven Against Slumping Isles

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(9-3-3, 21pts)                  (4-7-3, 11pts)

 “There’s a lot of confidence in this room right now, so hopefully we can keep it up and keep going. We’ve won six straight and we want to keep this streak alive.” – Marian Gaborik

BROADCAST INFORMATION: MSG, MSG Plus / ESPN-AM 1050, WRHU-FM 88.7
OPPONENT BLOG: Eyes On Isles

The New York Rangers head into Nassau Coliseum tonight seeking a seventh consecutive win against the slumping Islanders. If successful, the seven-game streak would match the Blueshirts’ best run in more than two years and could see them move to the top of the Atlantic Division standings depending on the outcome of Pittsburgh’s game against Colorado tonight.

Of course, it goes without saying that the Rangers are in great form heading into the game. The ‘GAS’ line of Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan continues to role despite being kept off the board in Carolina on Friday, while Brandon Dubinsky’s duck-breaker against the ‘Canes could hopefully be the start of a streak of his own. Sean Avery is giving the Rangers what they need right now, and as long as he stays on the right side of the line he’ll continue to be an asset to the team.

As for the Isles. Well, it’s not exactly been the start they’d have hoped for, but despite their one-in-ten slump the Rangers can in no uncertain terms take them lightly (and I’m sure they won’t). The Islanders come into the game fresh from a 4-1 loss to the Canucks, and will of course be looking to get their season kick-started at the expense of our Rangers.

Join me after the jump for the full pre-game…

PROJECTED LINES

Artem Anisimov – Derek Stepan – Marian Gaborik
Sean Avery – Brad Richards – Ruslan Fedotenko
Brandon Dubinsky – Brian Boyle – Ryan Callahan
Brandon Prust – Erik Christensen – Andre Deveaux

Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto – Mike Sauer
Jeff Woywitka – Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist

Injuries/Scratches – Wojtek Wolski (sports hernia), Mike Rupp (knee), Marc Staal (post-concussion) and Anton Stralman (healthy scratch).

KEYS TO THE GAME

IGNORE THE STANDINGS – If there’s one thing we all know about Rangers/Islanders games, it’s that the standings go right out of the window when they come around. Particularly at this point, with the Rangers on a six-game win streak and the Isles in the midst of a one-win-in-ten slump, it’s absolutely necessary that the Blueshirts don’t come out slowly and sleepwalk through a period or two.

SECONDARY SCORING – The Islanders have a habit of finding goals against the Rangers even when they are struggling to score against other teams, thus the Rangers will need to provide scoring support to the top line in the same manner that they have through the past six games. John Tavares has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his last seven games against the Blueshirts, while Blake Comeau, 18 in 19 against the Rangers lifetime, and Kyle Okposo (three points in 14 games this season) are sure to get going at some point.

BATTLE OF THE POWERPLAYS – The Rangers are a disappointing 9-for-63 so far this season while the Isles are 8-for-45. With Mark Streit back on the point this season it goes without saying that the Rangers need to stay out of the box. If they can outperform the Isles on the PP, somehow, then they’ll go a long way toward bagging the two points.

KEEPING THEIR COOL – It’s the Isles and it more often that not descends into a scrap or five, but the Rangers are the form team playing good hockey and they need to concentrate above all else on winning the game. When the two points are gone and the win streak is over, edging a fight will mean very little to anyone.

ISLES NOTES

Evgeni Nabokov will start in goal for the Isles tonight, while Nino Niederreiter is set to play his first NHL game this year. Nabokov’s only win this season came against the Rangers on October 15.

Topics: Artem Anisimov, Blake Comeau, Brandon Dubinsky, Derek Stepan, Evgeni Nabokov, Islanders, John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Marian Gaborik, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Nino Niederreiter, Pre-game, Rangers, Sean Avery

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