The deeper team: Islanders or Rangers?

By RobSabo
4 of 4

Feb 8, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) before the game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Forwards: Edge Islanders

Islanders Lines:

  • Lee-Tavares-Okposo (Injured)
  • Bailey-Neilson-Strome
  • Kulemin-Grabovski-Grabner
  • Martin-Nelson-Clutterbuck

Scratches: Cizikas, McDonald, Boulton

Rangers Lines:

  • Zuccarello-Brassard-Nash
  • Kreider-Stepan-St. Louis
  • Hagelin-Hayes-Miller
  • Glass-D.Moore-Stempniak

Scratches: Fast

First and foremost, John Tavares is the best hockey player in the city. His 28 goals and 30 assists are only the tip of the iceberg when explaining his all-around brilliant game.

Kyle Okposo’s return will be key in favoring the Isles in the forward group.

What’s funny with these two teams is how similarly they’re both constructed.

Feb 7, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Rangers left winger Rick Nash (61) lines up for a face off during the third period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

While the Rangers are by far the faster team and the Isles are more physical, both lineups are spread out with hard working guys on each unit. Both coaches preach balance up and down the lineup.

Carl Hagelin and Michael Grabner are almost the same player. They’re both fast, defensive minded and take advantage of the slim offensive opportunities they receive. Because of them, both third lines are hard working units.

While Dominic Moore could be the best player on either fourth line, the Isles have the better line with Nelson, Martin and Clutterbuck. Glass is only there for the Rangers lone fighting threat and Stempniak shows many warts from time to time.

The top two lines for both teams are skilled and balanced. While Ryan Strome has blown up this season, it seems Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes are both hot on his heels.

In four matchups this season the Islanders have severely dominated the team from The Garden outscoring them 18-9 and winning three of the four. What’s scaring general manager Glen Sather right now is the fact that the Isles represent that speed/physical combination that his team struggled with in the Finals against the Kings in 2014.

It’ll be interesting how these lineups change come the trade deadline. Most have already assumed the smallish stature of Mats Zuccarello will be shipped in favor or a more physical presence.

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