Rangers start second half with rivalry game vs Islanders; Kreider potentially unavailable
Following the All Star break and a week off, the Rangers (27-13-4) will battle the Islanders (31-14-1) for the third time this season, but this time the game will be played at the Nassau Coliseum. Despite the snow, the teams practiced as scheduled and the game will go on.
The Rangers sit just five points behind the Islanders for first place in the division, making this matchup an important game for both teams. The Rangers have two games in hand on the Islanders, giving them a little more leeway.
The last time that the Rangers and Islanders faced off, the Islanders came away with a 3-0 victory at Madison Square Garden, shutting down the Rangers and ending a five game win streak.
The Islanders received bad news over the break, learning that star forward Kyle Okposo will miss the next 6-8 weeks with an upper body injury. Okposo is the team’s second leading scorer, posting 44 points (14-30-44) in just 46 games. He had seven points (5-2-7) in the last three games, and was part of a surging top line of Josh Bailey, John Tavares and Okposo that had combined for 19 points (8-11-19) over the team’s last three games.
Mikhail Grabovski, who has been out since January 9th, skated on the top line in place of Okposo, allowing for the other three lines to stay the same, keeping the chemistry between the forwards. Grabovski has six goals and eight assists in 38 games this season.
All Star goalie Jaroslav Halak will get the start for the Islanders, looking to continue one of the best starts to a season in his career. Halak is 25-9-0 in 34 games this season, posting a 2.41 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
The Rangers are heading into this game with a three game win streak, and a record of 16-3-0 in their last 19 games. The have outscored opponents 60-33 in that span, and have the most wins in the NHL since December 8th.
The last win came thanks to an overtime goal by Carl Hagelin, his first in eight games and just his second in 15 games. Hagelin has 18 points (9-9-18) in all 44 games this season.
Hagelin is on pace to match his 17 goals last season, but more consistency is needed from the 26 year-old Swede. Paired alongside Dom Moore, Hagelin is a formidable penalty killer, and his speed is unparalleled. The overtime goal came when paired with Dominic Moore and JT Miller, which could be the new third line for the Rangers as Kevin Hayes and Jesper Fast continue to develop.
Henrik Lundqvist will start for the Rangers in his 50th start of his career against the Islanders, and is looking to continue his recent success. Lundqvist has won 14 of his last 16 starts, improving his record to 23-9-3. Lundqvist has allowed two goals or less in 13 of his last 16 games, and is a huge part of the Rangers success alongside their strong defense.
Chris Kreider missed yesterday’s practice due to an undisclosed illness, and his status is unknown for tonight’s game. However, he was at the morning skate, and took part in all drills. If he cannot play, Tanner Glass would likely take his spot in the lineup.
The Rangers have been a strong road team, winning 10 of their last 12 games away from the Garden. The Blueshirts lead the NHL in goals against on the road (48), and has allowed two goals or less in 10 of their last 14 road games.
The Rangers and the Islanders will face off at Nassau Coliseum tonight at 7 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.
EXPECTED LINES (Not Confirmed)
Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin-Dominic Moore-JT Miller
Lee Stempniak-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Dan Boyle
Matt Hunwick-Kevin Klein
Posted on January 27, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged Alain Vigneault, Cam Talbot, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, Henrik Lundqvist, Islanders, Jesper Fast, John Moore, John Tavares, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, King Henrik, Kyle Okposo, Lee Stempniak, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Hunwick, MSG, MSL, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, NHL, NHL 2014-2015 Season, NHL All Star Game, NY Rangers, NYR, Rangers, Rangers Nation, Rangerstown, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Tanner Glass, The Ranger Zone. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.