Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Eyes On Isles Pregame Report
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Tonight the New York Islanders (4-4-3, 11 PTS) host the New York Rangers (3-7-0, 6 PTS) in game number 12 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…
Where: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
When: 10/29/2013, 7:00 pm EST
Watch: MSG + (HD) – Howie Rose, Butch Goring
Listen: WRHU 88.7FM, WRCN 103.9FM – Chris King
In a scheduling quirk primarily due to the Winter Classic being played between these two teams at Yankee Stadium in January, the New York Rangers visit the New York Islanders in what will be their only trip to Nassau Coliseum this season.
The Islanders come off a disappointing loss on Saturday at home to the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2, in what more than likely triggered a trade that was completed between them and the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday evening.
Fan favorite Matt Moulson was sent to Buffalo with two draft picks for sniper Thomas Vanek, who will make his regular season debut in blue and orange this evening, wearing #26 and playing along side John Tavares and Kyle Okposo as New York’s top unit.
But the problems with the New York Islanders run much deeper than at forward. The forwards need to be better in the neutral zone and get back quicker in the defensive zone to assist a young and still maturing defensive core that is missing Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Brian Strait (upper body). Matt Donovan is being given a trial by fire and Thomas Hickey, while his play has been splendid, is still undersized.
As expected, Evgeni Nabokov will be back in goal for the Islanders and having not played since Friday in Pittsburgh, is very rested and as usual, in high spirits.
The impetus will be on the home team to come out with a fire in their gut after the horrific loss to the Flyers and trade of Moulson. Nobody that does not wear #91 is deemed safe at this point and the status quo will not be accepted any longer by management or the coaching staff.
The Rangers, coming back off a season opening 9 game road-trip, played their first game at the newly renovated Madison Square Garden last night with similar results. A 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens dropped the blueshirts to 3-7-0 on the season and more alarmingly, left them with a -20 goal differential (15-35).
With Rick Nash remaining sidelined with a concussion and Ryan Callahan on the shelf with a broken hand, Carl Hagelin will make his debut for the Rangers tonight, coming off shoulder surgery in the off-season. To make roster room, New York sent rookie Jasper Fast back to the American Hockey League.
All things being equal, this is always a tough grudge match for the Islanders but with the Rangers current injury situation and trouble scoring goals, anything less than 2 points will be unacceptable for the blue and orange.
What They’re Saying…
“It was a disappointing loss, but it was great to be back,” said Lundqvist, whose team returned to completely refurbished Madison Square Garden after a season-opening nine-game road trip. [link]
Thomas Vanek, on what he thinks of playing with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo: “It’s going to take time obviously to build chemistry. But watching those two guys over the years – Playing against Johnny and watching him, he’s a special player, and I’ve known Kyle for a while. It’s an opportunity that I really look forward to.” [link]
Kyle Okposo, on the departure of Matt Moulson: “It’s hard. Obviously Matt and I are close. Any time you see a friend get traded, it’s a bit of a shake-up. But that being said, I’m looking forward to playing with Thomas tonight.” [link]
Okposo, on getting up for the Rangers: “It’s no problem getting up for this one. Obviously we want to have a bounce-back game after Philly. The energy is going to be good in here tonight. [The Rangers] played last night, so we want to jump on them right away.” [link]
- The Rangers have been outscored 27-10 over the first two periods this year.
- The Islanders power play in 2nd in the NHL at 27.8% and penalty killing 7th at 84.8%
- Islanders are 106-113-25 all time versus the Rangers
- John Tavares has the longest point streak in the league this year, current at 10 games.
- The Islanders are one of only 3 teams to score at least 2 goals in each game this year. The others are the Blackhawks and Blues.
- Kyle Okposo is 3 points shy of 200 for his career
26 Vanek – 91 Tavares – 21 Okposo
12 Bailey – 51 Nielsen – 40 Grabner
96 Bouchard – 16 Regin – 15 Clutterbuck
17 Martin – 53 Cizikas – 29 – Nelson
47 MacDonald – 3 Hamonic
7 Carkner – 14 Hickey
4- Martinek – 46 Donovan
Scratches: 36 – Boulton
Injured : 13 – McDonald, 37 – Strait
Injured Reserve: 11- Visnovsky
Rich Dias-Rodrigues (@RDNHL) will be covering the game live from the press box.
Please join us in the comment section below for in-game discussion and commentary.