The Rangers season is on the line tonight when then take on their Long Island rivals at MSG. The Islanders come into the game losers of their last three after getting swept in a three game series against the Capitals. The Rangers on the other hand come in on a 3 game winning streak. The two teams are currently going in opposite directions. Over the past 10 games the Rangers are 7-2-1 while the Isles are 4-5-1. With just 5 points separating the two teams but only 6 games left on the Rangers schedule they cannot afford a loss tonight. The Rangers have not had the best of luck this season against the Isles winning just two of the six meetings this year and have been shut out twice. Their last meeting, 10 days ago, was a 6-1 Islanders beat down.
New York Islanders
The Islanders recent struggles are easy to pinpoint. They are just not putting the puck in the net. Simple as that. Over their last 12 games the Islanders are averaging just 1.7 goals per game. That is including their 6 goal outburst against the Rangers last week. If you take that game out the average drops to 1.3. The loss of Anders Lee is really hurting this team. It also doesn’t help that their big time trade deadline acquisition Kyle Palmieri, who they gave up a first round pick for, has only scored 1 goal in his 10 games with the team.
New York Rangers
One of the hottest teams in hockey the Rangers look to keep their slim playoff chances alive by sweeping the two game series. The Rangers slow start to the season unfortunately will most likely cost them a playoff berth. The Rangers are one of only 6 teams to rank in the top ten in both goals for and against. Not surprising the other five (Vegas, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Colorado & Minnesota) have all clinched playoff spots already. The Rangers also own a division best +35 goal differential. The fifth best in the NHL. If they playoffs started today the Rangers would be the 4th seed in every other division and the 3rd seed in the North division. Just shows you how well this team has played this year even with the awful start.
Players to watch
The 23 year old had a huge 4 point game against the Rangers in their last meeting. That wasn’t the first time he has produced against the Rangers. In his career he’s averaging just over a point per game against the Blueshirts. Having tallied 20 points in 19 games. His best totals against any other team by far. For whatever reason lining up against the Rangers brings out the best in him.
After his awful start the to season Mika has been on fire! Since March Mika has scored 18 goals and tallied 40 points. Producing 1.3 points per game over that 31 game stretch. For the Rangers to sweep this mini series they need their top Center to show up. Mika has done damage against the bottom of the division scoring 34 of his 46 points on the season against Buffalo, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Against the big guns not so much. He has just 3 points in the six matchups with the Isles this season. If he is held off the score sheet I can almost guarantee the Rangers will not survive this series in the standings.
All the action kicks off tonight at 7pm!
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