Rangers Islanders Rivalry Reborn

Mar 7, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) collides with New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) after making a save in front of Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman (6) during the first period of an NHL game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There will be a rare occasion taking place on Saturday night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Islanders and Rangers will play each other in April and the game will actually mean something for both teams. The Islanders currently sit in the 6th spot in the Eastern Conference and the Rangers sit in the 8th spot with two points separating the two clubs. What even adds more to this game is the fact that you can argue both teams are the hottest teams in hockey as of now. The surging Islanders are 8-1-1 in their last 10 and the Rangers are 4-1-1 in the month of April. It should be as intense as a playoff game on Saturday out on Long Island. That is something I haven’t experienced in my lifetime as a Ranger fan. Since becoming a huge fan in 2002 I have only seen one significant Ranger-Islander game as a Ranger fan. That was when Chris Simon swung his stick into Ryan Hollweg’s face. From what I remember the game was in early March and both teams were clawing away to get into the playoffs. Other than that game, nothing, natta, zip. Even having gone to some Ranger-Islander games they still have not stirred me inside like other rivals of the Rangers do. From 2002 to 2004 the Rangers were brutally terrible while the Islanders were mediocre. After the lockout in 2005, the two teams switched roles with the Rangers becoming mediocre and the Islanders becoming completely irrelevant. (With the exception of 2007) I have a friend who is a big Islander fan. He  has always told me that this was one of the greatest rivalries there is. And I did not know what on earth he was talking about because the rivalry has been dead for far too long. There probably hasn’t been a meaningful game played between the two clubs since the mid-90′s. And before that the early 80′s. This means a whole generation of Ranger fans and Islander fans have not been exposed to the rivalry from when it was at it’s best. Now if you ask any Islander fan what team they hate the most, 9 out of 10 would say the Rangers easily. But as for Ranger fans (myself included) it is a different story. The team I loathe the most out of any team in sports is the New Jersey Devils. Partly because they have been one of the most successful franchises in sports history. But whatever the case I absolutely have no love for that team. I can respect them , give them credit, but I have not one ounce of love for the Devils. Next on my list is Philadelphia. Philly is a sports town people love to hate. As a Ranger fan I have always disliked Philly and I really started to hate them in recent years. Between Boucher’s stop on Jokinen to get into the playoffs, the Winter Classic and many more epic battles with the Broad St. Bullies.  Philly has stirred my emotions. And even now I have more hate towards Pittsburgh than the Islanders. So as a Ranger fan since the beginning of the millennium I have never particularly cared a great deal when the Rangers would play the Islanders. I always thought “meh, who cares?” But for the first time in my life I am really excited for a Rangers-Islanders game. Even though it is one game, this could be the re-birth of this famous rivalry. Both the Rangers and Islanders have an abundance of good young prospects, many of which are already playing for the two teams currently, and both teams look good heading into the future. It should be a fun ride for years to come. If the Islanders can keep growing off this year (which they should) it will be very fun for both these teams going forward and both fan bases. I am looking forward to Saturday a great deal, and I am confident I will finally see first hand, what my friend was talking about all these years.

 

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