Once again we go into the fold with the New York Rangers’ rivals, The New York Islanders. Tonight’s puck drop is set for 7:00pm from inside the warm Madison Square Garden.
Not much has changed statistically between the last two meetings of these teams. The Rangers are maintaining second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 29-23-3 record and 61 points. Despite posting a regulation win last night, the Columbus Blue Jackets are still three points behind the Rangers with only one game in hand. The team to watch right now is Carolina, The Hurricanes have two games in hand and trail the Rangers by four points with fewer losses. Coach Vigneault announced Henrik Lundqvist as his starting goalie yesterday afternoon. His goals against average is now 2.50 with a .915 save percentage. With three points in his last two games, Mats Zuccarello has now tied Brad Richards for the team lead in points with 38. Zuccarello has 15 goals compared to 13 for Richards. Richards leads the team in shots on goal with 183 while Zuccarello is fifth on the team with 116. Rick Nash continues to lead the team in goals with 18; he has 27 points in his 38 games from 154 shots on goal. Not surprisingly, Ryan McDonagh has logged the most time on ice this season; averaging between 24 and 25 minutes per game. Right behind McDonagh, is Dan Girardi who averages just under 23 minutes of ice time. Richards is averaging around 19 minutes of ice time per game which makes him number one among forwards. Close behind are Derek Stepan with about 18 and a half minutes and Ryan Callahan with just under 18 minutes. When compared with points production it seems as though many of the Rangers’ top producers; Zuccarello, Nash, Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, et all, are doing so with far less ice time. Derek Dorsett is set to have more X-rays on his leg today to check the progress of his healing from a broken tibia sustained 3 January 2014 againt the Penguins.
The Islanders havent played another game since they last met the Rangers so again the statistics are fairly similar. Travis Hamonic remains out for his his team. Evgeni Nabokov has been confirmed as tonight’s starting goal tender for the Islanders. Nabokov averages 2.82 goals against and a .907 save percentage. The Islanders have played 56 games to date and have a 21-27-8 record with 50 points planting them at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division and six points behind the seventh place Washington Capitals. Andrew MacDonald leads his team in time on ice with just under 26 minutes per game. Behind him are John Tavares with just over 21 minutes of ice time per game in which time he has amassed 23 goals for 64 points in 56 games. Kyle Okposo is averaging between 20 and 21 minutes of ice time per game and has amassed 23 goals for 57 points to date. Thomas Vanek rounds out the top line with just under 20 minutes per game and 15 goals for 38 points.
These two teams are not strangers and this game is going to be a dog fight from beginning to end. There will be chants, there will be post whistle activities, and the teams are going to go at it. This is going to be a momentum game for the winning team.