Live conversation as the hated Islanders come to the Garden

ELMONT, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 24: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers defends against Zach Parise #11 of the New York Islanders at the UBS Arena on November 24, 2021 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 24: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers defends against Zach Parise #11 of the New York Islanders at the UBS Arena on November 24, 2021 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

It’s kind of a nice situation for fans of the New York Rangers.  The Blueshirts are sitting pretty, with one of the best records in the NHL that has them a lock for a playoff spot.  Meanwhile, the Islanders, one of the teams most prognosticators picked to be a Stanley Cup contender, are on the outside looking in with an aging roster, limited cap space and in the middle of one of the most disappointing seasons in the history of the franchise.  Like we said, nice.

That doesn’t mean the Rangers can take the Fishsticks lightly.  Whenever they play, it means the revival of a bitter rivalry and you can be sure it will be a physical, nasty game. The Islanders have been on an offensive roll lately, but haven’t been able to put together the kind of winning streak they needed to get back into contention.

This could be the last time the Rangers see this Islanders team as they are expected to be sellers at the trade deadline and with five pending UFA’s on the team, you can be sure that Lou Lamoriello will be looking for deals.

The Islanders have points in five straight games and are coming off a shootout loss to the Capitals.  Anders Lee is the hottest Islander with goals in five straight games. Though the Islanders have played the fewest games of any NHL team, they are still 19 points out of the final wild card spot with only 25 games left to play.

The Isles have the sixth best defense in the NHL, allowing 2.72 goals per game (the Rangers are  third at 2.58).   The Islanders score 2.70 goals per game (24th overall), but they have scored 22 goals in their last five games and have been held to two goals only three times in their last 15 games.  Their PP is in the middle of the pack, but their penalty kill is sixth best, three slots ahead of the Blueshirts.

Vatrano’s debut

As for Ranger fans, we will be looking forward to the debut of Frank Vatrano who will be wearing number 77.  Although he is listed on the team’s roster as a center, he is a natural left winger who can play both sides.  In seven years in the NHL he has taken only 149 faceoffs and has a winning percentage of 34.9%.  He’s not a center.

So that leaves a question of where he will slot into the lineup. He has the offensive skills to play on the right side of Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin, but could also be used to bolster the bottom six.  It’s a guarantee that Gerard Gallant will experiment and the early lineup has Vatrano on the left side of Filip Chytil and Jonny Brodzinski.

Their last game

The two teams have played only once this season with the Rangers winning 4-1 at the UBA Arena on November 24.  The Islanders lineup was decimated by COVID-19.  Islanders who didn’t play included Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Zdeno Chara, Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech and Andy Greene, all expected to play tonight.  It’s a different team.

This game was supposed to be played on November 28 when the Isles were in a tailspin.  The postponement didn’t do the Rangers any favors.

Projected starting lineups

Igor Shesterkin is the expected starter and he beat the Isles earlier this season, allowing one goal on 21 shots.  Before this season he had not beaten the Islanders in five starts, going 0-4-1.  His lifetime 3.18 GAA and .888 Sv% is the worst by far against teams in the Metropolitan Division.

Morgan Barron and Tim Gettinger have been returned to Hartford.


20 Kreider– 93 Zibanejad –13 Lafrenière
10 Panarin– 16 Strome – 29 Hunt
77 Vatrano – 72 Chytil – 76 Brodzinski
21 Goodrow – 14 McKegg – 75 Reaves

55 Lindgren– 23 Fox
79 Miller – 8 Trouba
12 Nemeth – 45 Schneider

31 Shesterkin
40 Georgiev


27 Anders Lee – 29 Brock Nelson – 18 Anthony Beauvillier
11 Zach Parise – 13 Mathew Barzal  – 26 Oliver Wahlstrom
12 Josh Bailey – 44  J.G. Pageau – 21 Kyle Palmieri
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 15 Cal Clutterbuck

3 Adam Pelech – 6 Ryan Pulock
33 Zdeno Chara  – 8 Noah Dobson
4 Andy Greene – 24 Scott Mayfield

30 Ilya Sorokin
40 Semyon Varlamov

Ilya Sorokin is the confirmed starter for the Islanders. He has played two games against the Rangers with a 1-1 record, allowing seven goals in two games for a 3.47 goals against average and a .879 save percentage.

How to watch and the live conversation

The game will start at 7pm and the telecast will be on the MSG  Network with the radiocast on ESPN Radio 98.7FM.    Nationally, the game will be live streamed on ESPN+.  If you want to see how the Islanders crew does the game, it will be on MSG+.

As usual Blue Line Station will be hosting its live in-game conversation using the comments feature below.   Join your fellow Ranger fans to talk about the game, the team, the trade deadline or any other topic.  Islanders-Rangers is always a good one.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!