When the NHL schedule was revealed over the summer, the Rangers and Islanders had a funny quirk in their season series. The teams didn’t meet at all in October, November, or December, and the first of their four meetings is set to take place tonight, a handful of games past the midway mark of the season. Now, these New York rivals are set to meet three times in an eight day span, with games tonight, the 16th, and the 21st of January before heading into the All-Star break.
While plenty of people (myself included) expected the Islanders to fail to replicate their success from last season, Barry Trotz’s squad once again finds itself comfortably in playoff position. The 17 game point streak they had earlier in the season has given them enough of a cushion to separate themselves from the dog fight for Wild Card spots, and they’re currently locked in a heated battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Player to Watch: Artemiy Panarin
As the crown jewel of the free agent class of 2019, plenty of teams target Panarin as something of a final piece to their teams. One of those teams was the New York Islanders, as they sought to replace John Tavares with another franchise altering superstar. In spite of reportedly offering upwards of $12,000,000 annually on a seven year contract to Panarin, he turned down the Islanders and signed onto Broadway for a slightly lower sum $11,642,857 annually. Look for him to give Islanders fans a taste of what they’ve been missing.
Enjoy the game!