For the third time in nine days, the New York Rangers will square off with their in-state rival Islanders, and the Blueshirts will look to defend home ice once again. A 6-2 blowout victory on January 13th was followed by a hard-earned 3-2 triumph at the Nassau Colosseum three days later, and now David Quinn’s squad will look to clinch a victory in the season series for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
Tonight’s game will also be the final contest prior to the All-Star break for both teams. A win tonight will get the Rangers back to the true .500 mark, while the Islanders will look to enter the break on a high note after losing five of their previous six games.
*Player to Watch: Artemiy Panarin
After fueling the Blueshirts offense with a five point performance in his team’s 6-2 victory, Panarin was held to a single assist in the rematch on Long Island three nights later. Although the Rangers won in spite of a quiet night from their superstar, they can’t expect to get so lucky again. The team is a pitiful 8-16-3 when Panarin fails to score multiple points in a game, which stands in stark contrast to their 15-4-1 mark when Panarin’s name is dotted throughout the scoresheet. As Panarin goes, so do the Rangers, so keep an eye on him tonight.
Enjoy the game!
*Editor’s note: Panarin was held out of the game after the game thread was published. Pavel Buchnevich has taken his spot on the line with Ryan Strome and Jesper Fast.