The New York Rangers will faceoff against their crosstown rivals, the New York Islanders, tonight as Madison Square Garden. This will be the first time these two heated rivals meet for this shortened season, and it's one that the Rangers would love to win. The Rangers have failed to find their identity over these first nine games, and are in desperate need to right the ship. Tonight would be a good starting point for a winning streak. Here's how they can do it.
New York Islanders (4-4-1) vs New York rangers (4-5-0)
Madison Square Garden - New York, NY - 7:00 PM
Television: MSG (home), MSG+ 2 (away) | Radio: ESPN NY 98.7
Opponent's Blog: Lighthouse Hockey | Tickets: New York Rangers Tickets (low as $90)
While the Rangers lost 3-1 to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night, they didn't play particularly bad, but rather they couldn't solve Martin Brodeur and had some defensive lapses. The Devils hounded the Rangers in their own, which was in fact, a large part of the Rangers success last season. Even though the Rangers lost some of that grinding mentality by bringing in more skill, they need to stick to what made them successful all along.
There has been very little to no hard work behind the goal line this season, and a majority of their offense has come off of the rush. Just take a look at the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, that's one of the only times this season that the Rangers have used their aggressive forecheck properly, and it resulted in a four goal third period. They were tough on the puck, and incorporated their defense, which in turn had the opposition constantly on the move. With the J.T. Miller, Ryan Callahan, and Chris Kreider all playing tonight, and on the same line to boot, they're going to need to be the main source of grit tonight.
Some Quick Thoughts:
*** As I had just mentioned, J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider will be in the lineup once again tonight, and on the third line together with Ryan Callahan. Miller and Kreider were easily the two best forwards for the Rangers on Tuesday night, and that line wound up coming away with the only goal of the game. Part of that lines success was being hard on the puck, and using their speed to back up the opposing defenders. Kreider's goal came right under the hash marks of the left circle, so speed lead to goals. It's just a matter of how well they use it tonight.
*** The top line of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, and Rick Nash has finally be split up, mainly to spread out some of the offense, and jump start some of the other lines. It also makes sense that Marian Gaborik, and Brad Richards will remain on a line together. They both compliment each other's game as Gaborik can use the passing of Richards to find space to get a shot off. As for Rick Nash, he will be better suited with guys like Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan. It's no question that Nash can create by himself, so having guys that can crash the net and bang home rebounds will only be for the better. Again, it's a matter of getting in the zone to create those chances tonight.
*** Dan Girardi will remain a scratch tonight as he is still nursing what appears to be a foot/ankle injury that he suffered against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He's still listed as day-to-day and took part in today's morning skate for a short time. While it's still unknown what exact type of injury he has, it doesn't appear to be that serious as of right now. Brian Boyle will also be a healthy scratch tonight as his poor play last game as landed him a spot in John Tortorella's dog house. He needs to learn how to his size better, and be much tougher on the puck. As of right now, he's just a giant teddy bear.
Taylor Pyatt - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash
Chris Kreider - J.T. Miller - Ryan Callahan
Arron Asham - Jeff Halpern - Darroll Powe
Ryan McDonagh - Michael Del Zotto
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Steve Eminger - Matt Gilroy
Scratches: Dan Girardi (ankle/foot), Brian Boyle (healthy), Stu Bickel (healthy).