Pregame Analysis

Rangers Renew Long Time Rivalry in Battle of New York

The Rangers and Islanders will do battle for the first time this season in the Battle of New York (7:00 p.m. ET, MSG).

Monday night, the Blueshirts defeated a tough Canucks side 2-1 in a very tight game. The Rangers young stars came to play, and they were the difference in this matchup. Most noticeably, Filip Chytil had his best game of the season and he was rewarded with his first goal of the season. Chytil started the game on the fourth line and he ended the game on the top line with Namestnikov and Zibanejad.

Brett Howden got the game winning goal midway in the third and that was enough for Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist made 25 saves and tied Jacque Plante for seventh on the NHL’s all-time win list.

The Blueshirts are surging as of late and are on a seven-game point streak (6-0-1). They are currently tied for second with the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division. If the right results occur, the Rangers can find themselves tied for first in the division by the end of the night. This is expected to be an intense and physical hockey game.

“There’s a little bit more passion, a little bit more pace, a little bit more snarl in these rivalry games,” said Rangers head coach David Quinn. “This should be no different.”

The Islanders are currently undergoing some major changes. Barry Trotz, who won the Stanley Cup last year as the head coach in Washington, is now the head coach of the Islanders. However, the hiring of Trotz could not sway their former captain John Tavares to resign. Tavares took a hometown discount to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Despite the loss of Tavares, the Islanders are still averaging over three goals a game. In his absence, the first line has been dominant for Brooklyn’s team. Consisting of Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee, they each average around a point per game.

In addition, they have also received much better goaltending then they did last season. Using a split goaltending tandem of Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner, they have done a much better job of keeping the puck out of the net this season. Last season the team allowed the most goals in the league, but this season they have allowed just the second fewest.

Greiss will get the start and he has been their better goaltender thus far. Greiss has allowed under two goals a game and has a save percentage near .94.

Tonight, the Rangers look to put an end to the demons that haunt them in Brooklyn. Since the Islanders moved to Brooklyn in the 2015-2016 season, the Blueshirts have yet to register a win at Barclays Center. This will be Quinn’s first experience of the Rangers – Islanders rivalry along with four other Rangers as they will all look to end the Barclay Center nightmare.

“It makes it enjoyable,” said Quinn, after Wednesday’s practice. “The day of the game you can’t help but feel the moment. The records kind of go out the window, and it’s all about your opponent and the rivalry.”

The Blueshirts will also get a lift as Mats Zuccarello will return to the lineup after a three-game absence.

“It’s fun to have him back. A lot of laughter here, a lot of smiles,” said linemate Mika Zibanejad. “And he’s fun to play with. Unbelievable player. Obviously, he’s been out for a few games, so you just want to get the chemistry going back again and find that back as soon as possible.”

Zuccarello will return to the right of Zibanejad, but he will see a new face on the left: Filip Chytil.

“The way he’s played, I think he’s earned this opportunity,” Quinn said. “I’m anxious to see him build on what’s happened over the last few games.”

“He was skating well, he was on pucks, hard on pucks and making plays,” Zibanejad said. “We’ve just got to stay on him, keep having him play that way.”

Alex Georgiev played Wednesday’s night game for the Hartford Wolf Pack. Georgiev made 26 saves in a 4-3 overtime win. He has since been called up and will backup Henrik Lundqvist tonight in Brooklyn.

Ryan Spooner will be a healthy scratch for the Blueshirts. He will sit with Brendan Smith who will sit his third straight game.

 

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