The Rangers and Islanders are set to do battle for just the fourth time this season and for the first time since February 8th (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG2).
|Rangers||East Division Ranks /8||Islanders|
Both teams played Thursday night and will each play the second leg of a back-to-back. The Rangers were defeated by western Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh Penguins, while the Islanders were victorious in a shootout against eastern Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Flyers. Now both New York teams will face off in “The Battle of New York.”
The Islanders currently have the edge in the season series 2-1. Oddly enough, all three games have been shutouts. The Islanders shutout the Rangers 4-0 on opening night and they were quick to return the favor just two days later. In early February, the Islanders and Rangers played a scoreless game through two periods and it was the Islanders to score twice in the third for a 2-0 win.
Alex Georgiev will get the start for the Rangers as they look to bounce back from Thursday. This will be a crucial start for Georgiev who will make his first start since March 19th which was a 2-1 defeat to the Washington Capitals. The Blueshirts were up 1-0 late in the third when Ovechkin buried two rebounds from similar spots. The 24-year-old has had some struggles and third-string goaltender Keith Kinkaid had been preferred over the Bulgarian-born goalie. Georgiev has had a lot of success in his career against the Islanders and he should feel confident. In his career against the Islanders, Georgiev has a 6-2-0 record with a .941 save percentage and a 1.80 goals against average.
Starting for the Islanders will be Semyon Varlamov who has had a terrific season. The 32-year-old is 16-7-3 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.17 goals against average. He also has four shutouts on the season and two of them have been against the Rangers. In 120 minutes against the Rangers this season, the Blueshirts have not managed to score once against Varlamov.
With the trade deadline fast approaching on April 12th, the Islanders made a splash and acquired Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for A.J. Greer, Mason Jobst, 2021 first-round pick, and a 2022 conditional fourth-round pick. The Islanders are without their captain Anders Lee for the rest of the season and Palmieri will be a nice fit to help replace some of Lee’s production. Zajac will provide the Islanders with some depth for the bottom six. Both are in the final year of their contracts and could serve the Islanders as pure rentals.
Adam Fox continued his point streak on Thursday and extended it to 12 games. Fox is currently tied for most points among defensemen in the league with Victor Hedman. Fox will have a tough time extending it to 13 against the second-best defense in the entire league. The Islanders aren’t a very flashy team who possess many offensive threats. However, they are a core group of middle-six guys who will play Barry Trotz’s defensive system to a tee and are capable of putting the puck in the net.
The Rangers lineup is expected to stay mostly the same as Thursday according to head coach David Quinn. One decision he will have to make is who will man the right-wing with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. Colin Blackwell started in that spot, but Vitaly Kravtsov joined the line and looked good during the game against Pittsburgh. It’s possible that whoever starts on that line on Friday, will not end on that line by the game’s conclusion.
“Those are two good options to have to put on that line,” Quinn said.