Eyes On Isles Pre-Game Report
Tonight, the New York Islanders (21-27-8, 50 Points) visit the New York Rangers (29-23-3, 57 Points) in game no. 56 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
When: Friday, January 31st, 2014, 7PM
TV: MSG+ (Howie Rose, Butch Goring)
Radio: 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM WRCN (Chris King)
Opposition Blog: Blue Line Station
Tickets: New York Islanders Tickets
The Isles and Rangers meetup (incredibly) for the final time this season. The teams have split the first 4 games of the season series and this is the all important tie breaker. The Islanders lost a tough 2-1 decisions to the Rangers in the Stadium Series game 48 hours ago. Even if it was Cee-Lo’s fault that they lost, they will have no such scapegoat this evening.
Coach Jack Capuano told everyone this morning that the lines would stay the same. The word vital does not even begin to explain this game. If the Islanders lose this game, it puts another dent into their already faint playoff hopes. For a team that has been so good this year at playing from behind, they sure have dug themselves quite the hole. The Islanders find themselves sitting 8 points out of a playoff spot with a mountain of teams to climb over. Is it impossible? Of course not. Is it unlikely? Absolutely.
The Isles are completing a difficult January which saw them have many highs and many lows. Basically they have come out of it in the same place they were when this stretch of games started. They went 8-8-1 in January. Nothing lost, nothing gained. But the Isles have lost 4 straight games, gaining 1 point in the ridiculous, league-gifted shootout loss to St. Louis. They have 4 games left before the Olympic break; The Rangers, Capitals, Flames & Avalanche. Wanna make a statement? Go 4-0. Even 3-1 would be a nice way to ride into the break. Honestly though, anything less than that and you can pretty much put a fork in this season.
Stop me if you have seen this movie before, but boy did that losing streak in November hurt the Islanders. Something about that month that just wrecks this team. They have to learn to get past that and focus on now. What happened then stinks, but most important right now are 4 straight winnable games.
What They’re Saying
You never really know [how it's going to be] until you’re out there and you see that great atmosphere… I loved every second of it.
-Islanders Goalie Evgeni Nabokov on playing at Yankee Stadium
I think it’s been one of our best lines. [Nelson] is doing a great job on draws, they are playing simple hockey, they are doing the right things and when you do those things you have success.’s going to be the keys for us here tonight.
-Islanders Coach Jack Capuano on the Islanders’ Third Line
You’ve got to want it. You have to go out there and let your work ethic dictate the scoreboard. Whether we lose games or win games, I want to see this team work, play structured and play within the framework. If we do that, we give ourselves a chance and I thought we did some good things over the last few games.
-Islanders Coach Jack Capuano on the Islanders’ game plan
He’s thinking about the team all of the time, and I’ve got a lot of time for players like that”
We know that we are up against a real tough opponent..we have a real tough game ahead of us, & we’re ready for it
-Alain Vigneault on facing the Islanders tonight
- The Islanders have gone 9-2-0 in their last 11 road games.
- The Islanders and Rangers do not meet again this season
- Kyle Okposo has 11 goals and 12 assists in his last 16 games.
- Thomas Vanek has scored two game-winning goals for the Islanders at Madison Square Garden this season.
- The Islanders third line of Michael Grabner, Brock Nelson and Cal Clutterbuck has combined for seven points (three goals, four assists) in its last four games.
26 Thomas Vanek – 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
16 Peter Regin – 51 Frans Nielsen – 12 Josh Bailey
40 Michael Grabner – 29 Brock Nelson – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 13 Colin McDonald
37 Brian Strait – 47 Andrew MacDonald
14 Thomas Hickey – 11 Lubomir Visnovsky
44 Calvin de Haan – 46 Matt Donovan