New York Rangers Pregame: Keys To Tonight's Matchup Against The Islanders

Tonight, the New York Rangers will be taking on the New York Islanders. It may only be two games into the season, but it already feels like a must win for the Rangers, even though it isn't. Regardless, here are some keys to tonight's game. 

  • Convert on the power play: The Rangers are 0-for-8 so far this season with the man advantage. That can't happen tonight. When the Rangers go on the power play they need to convert, or at least look dangerous. Teams who can't score with the man advantage usually don't get very far in the playoffs, and while it's way too early to have that discussion now the power play just needs to start working. 
  • Shore up the defense: The Rangers' defensive corps are already depleted with the injury to Marc Staal, and the team got more bad news yesterday when John Totorella confirmed that Mike Sauer would not be playing today. That means that Jeff Woywitka makes his Rangers' debut tonight. Look for the Islanders to go after him early and often. 
  • Hank has to be Hank: Henrik Lundqvist will almost certianly be hung out to dry once or twice tonight, such is the road when playing with a young defense. And while the Rangers will want to limit those chances tonight, when they do slip through, Lundqvist will need to be there to bail the team out. 
  • Score early: The Rangers have fallen behind in each game they have played so far this season, it's time to change that. The Rangers need to get a few pucks into the back of the net, settle down and get back to playing their style of hockey. When the Rangers were clicking, they had two of the better teams in the league on their back foot, that needs to happen for 60 minutes tonight. 

Official New York Rangers press release after the jump.

NEW YORK RANGERS at NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Nassau Coliseum - Uniondale, New York
October 15, 2011 - 7:00 p.m.


TOMORROW'S GAME
The Rangers will face-off against the New York Islanders tomorrow at Nassau Coliseum (7:00 p.m.), in an Atlantic Division match-up. The Rangers (0-0-2, 2 pts) enter tomorrow's contest having been defeated by the Ducks, 2-1, in the shootout on Oct. 8 to complete the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere in Stockholm, Sweden with an 0-0-2 mark.  The Blueshirts are now 2-0-2 all-time in regular season games played in Europe, having previously swept a back-to-back set against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2008 NHL Premier in Prague, Czech Republic. The Islanders enter the contest with a 2-1-0 (4 pts) record, and have won each of their last two games. Following tomorrow's contest, the Rangers will travel to Vancouver to face-off against the Canucks on Tuesday, October 18, at Rogers Arena (10:00 p.m.), to begin a six-game stretch against Canadian opponents including four on the road to begin the set.

RANGERS PRACTICE SCHEDULE
The Blueshirts are scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. morning skate tomorrow, October 15, at Nassau Coliseum.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:
-TV: MSG Network
6:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show with Bill Pidto and Ron Duguay
7:00 p.m. - Rangers at Islanders
Broadcasters: John Giannone (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), Dave Maloney (In-Game Reporter)
-Radio: Bloomberg Radio and newyorkrangers.com
6:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show
7:00 p.m. - Rangers at Islanders
Broadcasters: Don LaGreca (Play-By-Play), Pete Stemkowski (Analyst)

RANGERS vs. ISLANDERS:
-All-Time: 112-98-19-5 overall (65-37-11-4 at home; 47-61-8-1 on the road)
-2010-11: This is the first of six meetings between the Rangers and Islanders this season, and the first of three meetings at Nassau Coliseum.
-Last Season: The Blueshirts were 4-2-0 in 2010-11, including a 1-2-0 mark on the road. The Rangers averaged 4.5 goals per contest, and converted 9-28 on the power play for a 32.1% success rate in the season series.
-The Rangers ranked ninth with a 24-16-1 (49 pts) record on the road last season; the Islanders ranked 25th with a 17-18-6 (40 pts) mark at home last season
-The Blueshirts were 14-9-1 vs. the Atlantic Division last season; the Islanders were 6-13-5 against the Atlantic Division last season
-Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 21-10-5 record with a 2.21 GAA and three shutouts in 37 career regular season contests vs. the Islanders, including a 4-2-0 mark with a 3.13 GAA and one shutout in six games last season; Martin Biron is 20-4-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA and two shutouts in 26 career regular season games vs. the Islanders
-Brad Richards leads the Rangers with 18 assists and 28 points in 30 career regular season contests vs. the Islanders; Marian Gaborik has tallied a team-high, 14 goals, and 26 points in 21 career regular season games vs. the Islanders
-Marian Gaborik led the Rangers with six goals, 10 points, three power play goals and two game-winning goals in six games vs. the Islanders last season; Brandon Dubinsky tallied a team-high, six assists, and added three goals for nine points in six games vs. the Islanders in 2010-11
-The Rangers list two former Islanders on their roster: Martin Biron (2009-10); Ruslan Fedotenko (2007-08)
-The Islanders list two former Rangers on their roster: Mike Mottau (2000-01 - 2001-02); P.A. Parenteau (2009-10)

SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Blueshirts posted a plus-13 rating on special teams (PPG+SHG minus PPGA+SHGA) last season, which tied for second in the league.
-Power Play: New York was 0-7 (9:24) on Oct. 8 against the Ducks, and are 0-8 with the man advantage in two games this season. Last season, the Rangers were 14-72 (19.4%) in their final 21 games. New York ranked 18th overall (49-290, 16.9%) and 21st on the road (21-139, 15.1%). The Rangers were 5-15 (12:41) in five-on-three situations (last – 4/3 at PHI), and 0-7 (8:42) when four-on-three (last – 4/3 at PHI). Shorthanded goals allowed (5): 11/20 at MIN (Cullen); 12/5 vs. OTT (Kelly); 1/2 at FLA (Weiss); 1/16 vs. PHI (Richards); 3/20 at PIT (Kunitz).
-Penalty Killing: New York was 6-6 (8:11) on Oct. 8 against the Ducks, and are 10-11 (90.9%) in two games this season. Last season, the Blueshirts were 18-20 (90.0%) in their final 11 games. New York tied for ninth overall (215-257, 83.7%) and ranked sixth on the road (117-139, 84.2%). The Rangers were 7-10 (7:21) in three-on-five situations (last – 2/27 vs. TBL), and 4-6 (2:41) when three-on-four (last – 11/15 at PIT). Shorthanded goals for (11): 10/9 at BUF (Dubinsky); 11/5 at NJD (Dubinsky); 11/15 at PIT (Staal); 11/24 at TBL (Boyle); 11/26 at FLA (Prust); 12/5 vs. OTT (Prust); 12/12 vs. WSH (Staal); 12/16 vs. PHX (Prust); 1/7 at DAL (Fedotenko); 2/27 vs. TBL (Prust); 3/15 vs. NYI (Prust).
-Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in five four-on-four situations (8:09) on Oct. 8 against the Ducks, and are even in six four-on-four situations (11:00) this season.  Last season, the Rangers posted a plus-three rating in 67, four-on-four situations (134:41), and an even rating in one, three-on-three situation (2:00, 2/17 vs. LAK). Four-on-four goals for (7): 10/18 vs. COL (Frolov); 11/11 vs. BUF (Anisimov); 11/15 at PIT (Callahan); 12/12 vs. WSH (Callahan); 1/5 vs. CAR (Zuccarello); 3/4 at OTT (Stepan); 3/6 vs. PHI (Zuccarello). Four-on-four goals allowed (4): 10/15 vs. TOR (Kessel); 1/1 at TBL (Thompson); 3/15 vs. NYI (Moulson); 4/3 at PHI (Zherdev).

BACK-TO-BACKS
The Rangers completed their first of 14 back-to-back sets this season with a 2-1 shootout loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 8 at Ericsson Globe Arena. New York has posted a record of 0-0-1 (0-0-0 at home, 0-0-1 on the road) in the first game of the set, and are 0-0-1 (0-0-0 at home, 0-0-1 on the road) in the second game. Since 2009-10, New York is 21-8-3 in the back-end of back-to-back sets, including a 9-3-1 mark at MSG and 12-5-2 on the road over the span.

RING LEADERS
The Rangers lead the league with a 57.9% faceoff winning percentage, winning 66-of-114 faceoff attempts this season. Brad Richards leads all NHL players with a 79.2% faceoff winning percentage (19-24).

O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
Ryan Callahan notched the Rangers’ first goal of the season with an even strength tally at 15:22 of the first period on Oct. 7 against the Kings, while making his debut as the team’s captain. He also led all skaters with a career-high, 11 shots on goal, was credited with three hits, and led all team forwards with 20:30 of ice time. Callahan’s 11 shots were the most by a Ranger since Brendan Shanahan recorded 12 shots on goal on Apr. 4, 2008 vs. the Islanders.

NEW FACES
The Rangers had three players make their Rangers debut in the team's season opener on Oct. 7 against the Kings - Tim Erixon (NHL debut), Brad Richards (one assist) and Mike Rupp.

GETTING STARTED:
-The Rangers have posted a record of 281-270-93 all-time in the month of October, including a 176-117-48 mark at home and a 105-153-45 record on the road. New York (0-0-2) is scheduled to play 10 games during the season's opening month in 2011-12, with three games being contested at MSG and seven scheduled on the road.
-Legendary Rangers' defenseman Brian Leetch holds the franchise record for most points in the month of October, having registered 43 goals and 130 assists for 173 career points in the season's opening month.
-The Blueshirts' all-time leader for most career wins in the month of October is Mike Richter, who registered 40 career wins during the season's opening month. Henrik Lundqvist has recorded 33 career wins during the month of October.
-New York has posted two, seven-game winning streaks in the month of October, winning seven consecutive games during the season's opening month in 2009-10 (Oct. 3 vs. Ottawa to Oct. 17 at Toronto) and 1988-89 (Oct. 16 vs. Vancouver to Oct. 30 vs. Pittsburgh).

COUNTDOWN TO 2,500 WINS
The Rangers are currently 16 wins shy of 2,500 wins, having won 2,484 games all-time in franchise history.

CLOSING TIME
The Blueshirts were the only team in the NHL who were undefeated when leading after two periods last season, posting a record of 29-0-0 in those contests. The Rangers tied for third in the league with a plus-22 goal differential in the third period (85 goals for, 63 goals against). New York also tied for second in the NHL with eight wins and 20 points in games in which it trailed entering the final frame.

AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS
The Rangers completed the 2010-11 season leading the league in hits (2,333), ranked fourth in blocked shots (1,301), tied for first in shutouts (11), second in number of players with at least one GWG (19), third in shootout wins (nine), fourth in shorthanded goals (11) and road wins (24), fifth in goals against (198), and fifth with a plus-35 goal differential.

MILESTONES IN SIGHT:
-Brandon Prust: 1 game from 200th NHL career
-Brad Richards: 3 assists from 500th NHL career
-Mike Rupp: 1 game from 500th NHL career

MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
-Tim Erixon: 1st career NHL game (10/7 at LAK)

INJURIES:
-Marc Staal (Injured Reserve, 10/5) - 2
Total Man-Games Lost: 2

RECENT TRANSACTIONS:
-Oct. 5 - Recalled defenseman Tim Erixon from Connecticut (AHL)
-Oct. 5 - Assigned forward Sean Avery to Connecticut (AHL)
-Oct. 5 - Placed defenseman Marc Staal on IR
-Oct. 6 - Claimed defenseman Jeff Woywitka off waivers from Montreal
-Oct. 6 - Assigned defenseman Stu Bickel to Connecticut (AHL)
-Oct. 9 - Assigned defenseman Brendan Bell to Connecticut (AHL)
-Oct. 9 - Returned goaltender Scott Stajcer to Owen Sound (OHL)    

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