The New York Rangers will take on their cross-town rivals, the New York Islanders tonight at Madison Square Garden. Both teams are aiming for their third consecutive victory tonight, so we'll be in for quite the game. Here are tonight's keys to the game!
Set The Tone Early: Just as we saw in the New Jersey game, the Rangers need to come out and set the tone early. There we a couple fights in the beginning of the game, and it gave the Rangers some early jump in the game. They need to do that again tonight, against this very young Islanders team. When the Rangers get their game going, they can be very scary, and need to start off with a bang tonight.
Work The Power Play: Although the power play is some what improving, the Rangers still need to work on it. With this being a divisional game, it will be chippy all night long. There will be a lot of chances with the man advantage tonight, and the Rangers need to capitalize. They have had some great puck movement as of late, they just need to find the back of the net.
Follow after the jump for more, and the official New York Rangers pre-game notes.
Play With An Edge: This Islanders team can turn around the game in a flash, and the Rangers need to always be on their toes tonight. They need to stick to their normal, gritty style game and just keeping grinding it out tonight. The Rangers are known for their consistent offensive zone pressure, and need to stick to that game tonight.
Goalies: Tonight's starters will be Martin Biron for the Rangers, and Evgeni Nabakov for the New York Islanders. With Biron starting, this has broken Henrik Lundqvist's streak of 15 consecutive starts against the New York Islanders, at MSG. This will be third meeting between these two teams, and it seems to be shaping up to quite the game.
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Thursday, Dec. 22, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden - New York, New York
Rangers: 19-8-4 (42 pts)
Islanders: 11-14-6 (28 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Dec. 20
The Rangers will face-off against the New York Islanders tomorrow at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), to open a back-to-back home set against Atlantic Division opponents. The Blueshirts currently rank second in the Atlantic Division standings, and fourth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 19-8-4 (42 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the New Jersey Devils, 4-1, on Tuesday at Prudential Center for their second straight win, and are 4-2-0 in their last six games. The Blueshirts have now registered at least one point in 18 of their last 23 games (16-5-2). The Islanders enter the contest with an 11-14-6 (28 pts) record to rank 14th in the Eastern Conference, and have won their last two games in the shootout. Following tomorrow's contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow, Dec. 23, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), to close out their back-to-back home set.
RANGERS PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
Prior to tomorrow's contest, the Rangers' morning skate is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the MSG Training Center. Head Coach John Tortorella will be available to the media at 4:50 p.m. in the Press Conference Room, located in the Media Center on the fifth floor of Madison Square Garden.
* Schedule and availability subject to change
* TV: MSG Network
6:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show with Al Trautwig and Mike Keenan
7:00 p.m. - Rangers vs. Islanders
Broadcasters: Sam Rosen (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), John Giannone (In-Game Reporter)
* Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
6:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show
7:00 p.m. - Rangers vs. Islanders
Broadcasters: Kenny Albert (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. ISLANDERS:
* All-Time: 113-99-19-5 overall (65-37-11-4 at home; 48-62-8-1 on the road)
* 2011-12: Tonight is the third of six meetings this season, and the first of three at home. The Rangers are 1-1-0 following a 4-2 win on Nov. 15 at Long Island. Ryan Callahan and Brad Richards have each tallied one goal and one assist apiece, and Brandon Dubinsky has recorded a team-high two assists. Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 1-1-0 mark with a 2.53 GAA and .924 Sv% in the season series.
* Last Season: New York was 4-2-0 overall, 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. Marian Gaborik led all skaters with six goals and 10 points in six games, while Brandon Dubinsky tallied a team-high six assists in the season series.
* New York ranks 19th with an 8-3-2 (18 pts) record at home; Long Island ranks 24th with a 5-6-3 (13 pts) mark on the road
* The Rangers have posted a 4-1-0 record vs. Atlantic Division opponents; the Islanders are 2-5-2 vs. the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 22-11-5 record with a 2.22 GAA and three shutouts in 39 career regular season contests vs. Long Island; 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 19 assists and 30 points in 32 career regular season contests vs. Long Island; Marian Gaborik has tallied a team-high 15 goals (27 points) in 23 games vs. the Islanders
* New York lists two former Islanders on their roster: Martin Biron (2009-10); Ruslan Fedotenko (2007-08)
* Long Island lists two former Rangers on their roster: Mike Mottau (2000-01 - 2001-02); P.A. Parenteau (2009-10)
The Rangers are 11-48 (22.9%) with the man advantage in the last 13 games. The Blueshirts' penalty kill has held their opponent scoreless in six of their last seven games (21-22, 95.5% over the span), while tallying four shorthanded goals during the stretch, and is 31-34 (91.2%) in their last 12 games. New York is tied for third in the NHL with five shorthanded goals. The Blueshirts have posted a record of 13-1-2 in games when tallying a power play goal, and are 13-3-2 when holding their opponent scoreless on the power play.
* Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in one power play attempt (2:00) on Tuesday at New Jersey. New York ranks 19th overall (20-122, 16.4%) and sixth at home (13-60, 21.7%). The Rangers are 2-11 (8:16) in five-on-three situations (last – 12/17 at PHX), and 0-4 (3:46) when four-on-three (last – 11/3 vs. ANA). Shorthanded goals allowed (3): 12/5 vs. TOR (Steckel); 12/8 vs. TBL (Moore); 12/17 at PHX (Korpikoski).
* Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts held the Devils scoreless in three shorthanded situations (6:00) and tallied one shorthanded goal on Tuesday at New Jersey. New York ranks fifth overall (98-113, 86.7%) and third at home (40-44, 90.9%). The Rangers are 5-6 (3:26) in three-on-five situations (last – 12/17 at PHX), and 0-1 (1:17) when three-on-four (last – 10/7 at LAK). Shorthanded goals for (5): 10/20 at CGY (Prust); 12/8 vs. TBL (Anisimov); 12/10 at BUF (Hagelin); 12/10 at BUF (Callahan); 12/20 at NJD (Hagelin).
* Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in one four-on-four situation (2:00) on Tuesday at New Jersey. The Rangers are plus-three in 33 four-on-four situations (60:21), and even in one three-on-three situation (0:01). Four-on-four goals for (3): 10/18 at VAN (Gaborik); 10/20 at CGY (McDonagh); 10/27 vs. TOR (Girardi). Four-on-four goals allowed (0).
The Rangers will begin their fifth of 14 back-to-back sets this season when they face-off against the Islanders tomorrow at Madison Square Garden. New York has posted a record of 3-0-1 (1-0-0 at home, 2-0-1 on the road) in the first game of the set, and are 3-0-1 (3-0-0 at home, 0-0-1 on the road) in the second game. Since 2009-10, New York is 24-8-3 in the second game of back-to-back sets, with a 12-3-1 mark at MSG and 12-5-2 on the road over the span. Henrik Lundqvist has started on consecutive days 56 times in his career, posting a record of 35-14-7 with a 1.82 GAA, .935 Sv% and six shutouts in the second game. The Rangers will close out the set on Friday, Dec. 23 vs. Philadelphia at MSG.
New York has seen 10 new faces in their lineup during the 2011-12 season - Tim Erixon* (10/7 at LAK), Brad Richards (10/7 at LAK, one assist), Mike Rupp (10/7 at LAK), Jeff Woywitka (10/15 at NYI), Brendan Bell (10/22 at EDM), Andre Deveaux (10/31 vs. SJS), Anton Stralman (11/23 at FLA), Carl Hagelin* (11/25 at WSH, one assist), John Mitchell (11/25 at WSH, one assist), and Stu Bickel* (12/20 at NJD, one assist). *NHL debut
2,500 WINS CLUB
The Rangers registered their 2,500th win in franchise history with a 4-1 victory at Buffalo on Dec. 10, becoming the fifth franchise in NHL history to reach the milestone along with Boston, Detroit, Montreal and Toronto.
* The Rangers rank third in the NHL with a .677 win%, and their eight regulation losses are tied for the fewest in the league
* New York has registered a point in 18 of their last 23 games (16-5-2), and has out-scored their opponent, 75-50, during the stretch
* The Blueshirts are tied for second in the league in fewest goals against (65) and rank third in GAA (2.10)
* The Rangers rank fifth in the NHL in hits (821)
* New York is 5-1-1 when leading after the first period and 11-0-2 when leading after the second
* The Blueshirts rank fourth in the NHL in team plus/minus rating (plus-20) and goal differential (plus-23)
* The Rangers rank 10th in the league in goals scored per game (2.90)
* The Blueshirts lead the league with an .833 win% when out-shooting their opponent (10-2-0)
* The Rangers are 7-0-0 all-time in games when Brandon Prust is assessed a fighting major in the opening two minutes
* The Blueshirts rank second in the NHL when scoring first, posting a 14-1-1 mark (.875 win%) in those contests, and their 14 wins are tied for fourth in the league
* Rangers' prospects Christian Thomas (Canada), J.T. Miller (USA) and Peter Ceresnak (Slovakia) have been invited to participate in their respective National Junior Team's selection camp for the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship
* Henrik Lundqvist has held opponents to two or fewer goals in 15 games this season, and is 11-4-1 with a 1.86 GAA, .937 Sv% and one shutout in his last 16 games
* Martin Biron has held opponents to two or fewer goals in five of his seven starts this season
* Marian Gaborik has tallied 26 points (15 G, 11 A) in the last 24 games, with 13 points (9 G, 4A) in the last 11
* Gaborik leads the team with eight multi-point games
* Derek Stepan has tallied 23 points (7 G, 16 A) in the last 23 contests, with 12 points (3 G, 9 A) in the last 10
* Artem Anisimov has tallied nine points (5 G, 4 A) in his last nine games
* Michael Del Zotto has tallied 10 points (1 G, 9 A) in the last 12 games
* Ryan Callahan has tallied 12 points (4 G, 8 A) in the last 13 games
* Brad Richards has tallied 21 points (11 G, 10 A) in the last 23 games, with 13 points (6 G, 7 A) in the last 13
MILESTONES IN SIGHT:
* Marian Gaborik: 1 assist from 300th NHL career
* Dan Girardi: 4 assists from 100th NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
* Marian Gaborik: 300th career NHL goal (12/17 at PHX)
* Marian Gaborik: 600th career NHL point (12/20 at NJD)
* Stu Bickel: 1st career NHL game & 1st career NHL assist/point (12/20 at NJD)
* Marc Staal (concussion, IR on 10/5) - 31
* Wojtek Wolski (groin, 11/3) - 20
* Michael Sauer (concussion, 12/5) - 7
* Steve Eminger (shoulder, 12/17) - 1
* Jeff Woywitka (ankle, 12/17) - 1
Total Man-Games Lost: 92
* Dec. 18 - Recalled defenseman Stu Bickel from Connecticut (AHL)
* Dec. 19 - Recalled defenseman Tim Erixon from Connecticut (AHL)