The Rangers will clash with the Islanders for the second straight game and they will be looking for an encore performance from Monday night (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG2).
On Monday night, the Rangers defeated the Islanders 6-2 in a dominant performance. The light shined bright on Artemi Panarin who was the game’s number one star. Panarin, who took less money in free agency to play for the Rangers then other franchises including the Islanders, showed just how good he is. The 28-year-old recorded two goals and three assists and is currently fourth in the NHL in point total (67 points). Panarin trails Connor McDavid by just seven points but has three games in hand.
“Every now and then, he one-ups himself, and he did that again tonight,” said head coach David Quinn.
Alex Georgiev made his first start since the Rangers opted for a three-man goalie rotation and the 23-year-old continued his strong play against the Islander. Georgiev made 32 saves and improved to 3-1 against the Islanders in his career. Georgiev’s only defeat against the Islanders came in a relief appearance.
On Thursday night, expect emotions to be high for round two. In the first period, there were two back-to-back fights. Michael Haley and Ross Johnston dropped the gloves; and they were followed up by Brendan Smith and Matt Martin. Due to the puck not dropping between the fights, Smith and Martin were each handed game-misconducts. As the game came to a close, the Rangers took exception to the Islanders taking runs at Mika Zibanejad. Chris Kreider and Tony DeAngelo went after Brock Nelson, which ultimately led to DeAngelo fighting Johnston. Expect tempers to flare on Thursday night between the two rivals.
After being defeated 6-2, the Islanders showed how dominant they can be in an 8-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings the following night. They’ll look to carry the momentum they built in that game to even up the season series against the Blueshirts.
The Rangers will ride the hot hand and turn once again to Georgiev. Like the Rangers, the Islanders will stick with Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov will look to redeem himself after allowing six goals on 35 shots on Monday night.
For Rangers rookie defenseman Adam Fox, he will return home but not as a welcome visitor. Thursday’s game will take place at Nassau Coliseum which is just a few miles from Fox’s home. This will be the first time the Blueshirts play in Long Island in nearly five years. Fox grew up a die-hard Rangers fan and use to watch the Rangers many times at Nassau.
“I used to go to those games at the Coliseum growing up, and with the crowd split like it is there you just hear the atmosphere from the start of the game, even during the National Anthem. That place gets going when it’s a Ranger-Islander game, so I expect it to be a good crowd there.”
In his first game against the Islanders, Fox registered a goal and assist to help carry the Rangers to a win.
“I think this is the best hockey he’s played for us, over these last few games,” Quinn said. “He’s been outstanding offensively, and his defensive game the other night was really good. I think this is the best he’s played this season.” Fox has now recorded nine points in the past seven games.
Brendan Lemieux has resumed skating for the Blueshirts. Lemieux is recovering from a fractured hand and the Rangers will hope he will be available following the conclusion of the all-star break.