Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rangers at Islanders Preview: Forget The Records, Get The Two Points

The Rangers are looking to get back to their winning ways against the woeful Islanders, but this is exactly the type of game that has haunted the Rangers in the past few years.  You have a team that finally ended a 14 game winless streak in their last game against the Devils and actually has points in three straight outings, but should not be a challenge to the Rangers.  The problem for the Rangers is that they tend to play down to their competition though they have done a much better job fighting that this year.  They are 9-2-1 against teams that are currently below .500.  These are the games that the good teams win and put their mark on early.  You cannot let teams that are struggling hang around and gain any measure of confidence because then they can bite you late in the game.

Lineups and predictions inside.

New York (12-10-1) at Islanders (5-12-5)

Key Opposition Player: John Tavares (8-4-12)

Rangers Lineup:
Sean Avery - Erik Christensen – Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko – Brian Boyle – Brandon Prust
Alex Frolov – Artem Anisimov – Todd White/Derek Boogaard

Marc Staal - Girardi
Michael Del Zotto – Michal Rozsival
Steve Eminger – Michael Sauer


Update:  Based on practice news looks like Biron is going to get the call tonight.

As I detailed earlier today the Rangers are once again experimenting with their line combinations with only one of the groups having any real time together this year, which is the Fedotenko-Boyle-Prust combination which has been the best line too often of late.  Dubinsky and Callahan will have to get going again along with more from Gaborik who has shown signs in his last two games of picking up his game.  The defense overall needs to be better and that starts with their leaders in Marc Staal and Dan Girardi who have been up and down over the last little bit.  Michal Rozsival has been good since his return, Eminger and Sauer have been solid for a while now and MDZ is a work in progress.

This game is purely about the Rangers and them getting back to their identity which is punishing people on the forecheck, cycling the puck, blocking shots and outworking their opponents.  There are no more excuses about fatigue as they have had two full days off  and with the I expect to see a lot of energy out of the club.  The only unknowns for the club will be if Derek Boogaard or Todd White will be on the fourth line and I am wondering if it will be Lundqvist or Biron as I think they give Biron one of these two against the Isles to keep him sharp and get a little back against a former team.  As bad as the Islanders have been this is still the NHL and if you sleep walk through a game you will lose, so do your jobs and come out with two points.

Prediction: Rangers 3-1

PS Dont forget Rangers fans the game is on the island so BYOF (Bring your own fans) is in full effect