Game Thirty-Nine, the New York Islanders at the New York Rangers
I know that I've had this game circled on my calendar for awhile now and I'm sure that you guys have as well. Tonight the Rangers will host their bitter rivals, the Islanders, at MSG. The Islanders are the current top dog in the Metropolitan Division thanks to their consistent strong play and the Penguins dealing with some serious injury woes. The Rangers and Capitals are surging and have made the race for the top spot in the division a four team contest. The Rangers are bringing a 5 game winning streak back home to the Garden ice. Their drastically improved play is now the worst kept secret in the NHL, so they won't be surpising anyone with their style of play, speed, and forecheck, especially not a team that knows them as well as the Islanders do.
Games like this always feel more important than your standard regular season game. Not only is there a potential four point swing in the division on the line tonight, there is also a rivalry, two red-hot teams, and plenty of drama to make things even more interesting. The Isles are 6-3-1 in their last ten and the Rangers are 9-1-0 in their last ten. Something to keep an eye on tonight is the Rangers' now elite power play matching up against the Islanders' very poor penalty kill. There are more things to keep track of tonight than I can list, so let's just jump right ahead to my player to watch and get ready for the big game.
The New York Rangers' January Schedule
1/3 Sabres at Rangers, 7:00(win.) 1/7 Rangers at Ducks, 10:30(win.) 1/8 Rangers at Kings, 10:30(win.) 1/10 Rangers at Sharks, 10:00(win.)
1/13 Islanders at Rangers, 7:00
1/15 Rangers at Bruins, 7:00
1/16 Rangers at Blue Jackets, 7:00
1/18 Rangers at Penguins, 12:30
1/20 Senators at Rangers, 7:00
1/27 Rangers at Islanders, 7:00
1/29 Canadiens at Rangers, 7:00
1/31 Hurricanes at Rangers, 7:00
Mike's Player to Watch: Derick Brassard
Brassard has 5 points in his last 5 games despite being kept off the box score against the Sharks on Saturday. A tremendous amount of the Rangers' recent success can be attributed to Brassard's chemistry with Rick Nash and his consistent contribution to the Rangers' offense. The Islanders have some good depth down the middle so the Rangers centers are going to have to work hard tonight to make an impact on the game. Brassard feels like a guy we should almost always have as a player to watch because of the kind of plays he can make and the way he can impact a game, but the Rangers are going to need him to be big tonight at the Garden to push the winning streak to six games and to pick up two huge points for the Rangers.
Hope you enjoy tonight's game! LGR!