New York Sports is replete with inner rivalries. The Yankees and Mets, the Giants and Jets, the Rangers and Islanders, and even the Knicks and Nets, although I can't say I've ever heard anyone ever get really excited for a Knicks-Nets game.
But each of these rivalries has a big brother-little brother complex to them. The Yankees have been around over 100 years, average a championship every 4 seasons, and have a worldwide fan base, while the Mets haven't had a team identity in over 20 years, and have just two measly banners to their credit, and years of futility and underachievement in their history.
The Giants and Jets follow a very similar path, with the Giants being one of the oldest teams in the league, numerous championships, and really only one prolonged bad stretch in their history (the 70's). The Jets have always lived in the shadow, and continue to live off a championship that happened forty years ago. (Yes Joe, we've heard the "Guarantee" story, at this point I can tell it better than you.)
That brings us to the Rangers-Islanders. The Rangers, with their 80-plus years of history, the flashy names, the bright lights of Broadway, and when newspapers pay attention to hockey: the headlines. The Islanders? Sure, they had their amazing dynasty in the early 80's, but they still suffer the same fate as the Mets, Jets, and I guess the Nets. I call it "The Little Brother Syndrome".
If you have younger siblings, remember when you used to play games with them? You'd beat them, usually by a wide margin, but you were supposed to. You were the big bad brother or sister: older, smarter, and presumably with more tools and resources for defeating your younger opponent. It felt good to win, it usually does, but there was also something missing because you felt like you were just doing what you were supposed to.
When the Yankees and Mets play, if the Yankees win, the Yankee fan mostly takes it in stride, its just another day at the office for them. Same goes for the Giants when playing the Jets, and Rangers when playing the Islanders. It's just big brother doing what big brother does.
But when little brother gets the best of you, your life becomes a living hell. Jet fans live to beat the Giants, and some Met fans would be ok with the Mets being 6-156 as long as those 6 wins came against the Yankees. Same rule applies for Islander fans; when the Isles beat the Rangers it makes their whole year. If you've ever been around an Islander fan after they've beaten the Rangers, you will know what I mean.
And in the case of the Islanders, baby bro is catching up to the Rangers. They are a hard working team that has played better than their record, and they have a flashy new toy in John Tavares. Meanwhile, big brother is struggling right now, his head isn't quite screwed on straight, like his girlfriend dumped him or something. But the Isles are still the little brother, and a couple of games against little brother may be just what the Rangers need to get their confidence going again.
Let's hope so, because nothing is worse than losing to your little brother.
Also, we are doing a Special "Blueshirt Banter Radio Rally" at 5:30 PM, leading up to the game. You can click the link below to listen to the show: