A Battle of New York sees the Rangers play their most crucial game of the year

Apr 9, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Alexander Romanov (28) checks New
Apr 9, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Alexander Romanov (28) checks New / Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the New York Rangers will play the most crucial game of the season. It's a battle of New York with everything on the line. A win tonight means the Rangers maintain their division lead, stop the rot of the two recent losses, and likely secure the Presidents Trophy. Defeat, and that lead the Rangers have held since October, will likely crumble away and allow the Carolina Hurricanes to grab the title from the Blueshirts in the season's final days.

This game is only further exacerbated by the alternative outcomes for the Blueshirts' opponents. Defeating the Rangers would mean the New York Islanders punch their ticket to the playoffs. Long Island's representative would join the dance of the league elite while sinking the division title ambitions of the city rivals. They could ensure that the Rangers' great season bears no regular-season fruit. While the Islanders are unlikely to go far this season, this would be a chance to write history for the Islanders.

Once again, this Rangers roster stands on the precipice of history. A win tonight will set a new single-season record, which will be the third attempt at this feat. Defeats have come in both the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers in recent attempts to clinch this record, and the Blueshirts have been soundly beaten. It'll all be forgotten if the Rangers get over the hump tonight and take this big step towards locking up the division title.

Projected Lineups

New York Islanders

Casey Cizikas - Bo Horvat - Mathew Barzal
Simon Holmstrom - Brock Nelson - Kyle Palmieri
Anders Lee - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Pierre Engvall
Matt Martin - Kyle MacLean - Cal Clutterbuck
Alexander Romanov - Noah Dobson
Adam Pelech - Ryan Pulock
Mike Reilly - Sebastian Aho
Ilya Sorokin
Semyon Varlamov

New York Rangers

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Jack Roslovic
Artemi Panarin - Vincent Trocheck - Alexis Lafreniere
Will Cuylle - Alex Wennberg - Kaapo Kakko
Jimmy Vesey - Barclay Goodrow - Matt Rempe
Ryan Lindgren - Adam Fox
K'Andre Miller - Braden Schneider
Erik Gustafsson - Jacob Trouba
Igor Shesterkin
Jonathan Quick

Puck Drop

These two teams will square off in a matinee from Madison Square Garden at 12:30 Eastern. A win, and we'll all feel better about the Rangers' chances heading into the remainder of the season. Can the Islanders deny the Rangers their hopes of a division title and a Presidents' Trophy, or will the Rangers complete the season's success by cementing themselves as the best team in the NHL?