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Rangers head to Brooklyn to battle the Islanders; Grabner out, Hrivik in

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-islanders-10-4

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

With the Rangers (17-8-1) in the midst of a rough stretch, having won just four of their last nine games, they’ll take on the lowly Islanders (9-10-5) in the first matchup this season at the Barclays Center.

The Rangers took down the Carolina Hurricanes in their last game, getting two goals from Chris Kreider and one from Michael Grabner and Derek Stepan to secure a win despite playing pretty poorly through the first two periods. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 26 of the 28 shots that he faced.

The Islanders had a dreadful start to the season, opening the season with a 5-9-1 record and sitting in last place in the league. But with a 3-0-1 record in their last four games, they’re finally starting to show signs of life. But they’re still last in the Metropolitan and have the third fewest points in the NHL.

This is the second of four meetings between these teams, and the first in Brooklyn. The Rangers beat the Islanders on opening night, 5-3, with goals from five different Rangers and points from 11 skaters.

The Islanders have split the workload between Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss pretty evenly, with team not willing to commit to either. Halak is 4-6-5 with a 2.93 GAA, a .909 save percentage and one shutout, and Griess is 5-4-0 with a 2.47 GAA and .919 save percentage.

Andrew Ladd was the Islanders big free agent acquisition this offseason, signing a seven year deal with an average value of $5.5 million. So far, he’s been a colossal disappointment. Ladd has just five points (2-3-5) in 24 games, and he has just two assists in the last 10 games. It’s been so bad for Ladd that he’s even been on the fourth line at times. He needs to break out in the biggest way possible and salvage this season.

John Tavares is still playing well despite not having a lot of talent around him. He has six goals and 13 assists for a team best 19 points. He’s an incredibly talented player capable of winning a game by himself, and the Rangers defense needs to be primarily focused on him.

The Rangers announced yesterday that they had recalled Marek Hrivik from the Hartford Wolf Pack. This was because Michael Grabner will not play tonight following the death of his grandmother, and he will be attending the funeral. Oscar Lindberg or Josh Jooris will be the scratch despite the fact that it seems like JT Miller is still dealing with a nagging knee injury.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start tonight, coming off of a good performance against the Hurricanes. Lundqvist is 12-7-1 with a 2.47 GAA and a .914 save percentage and he will be making his 20th start of the season tonight.

Brandon Pirri has gone ice cold for the Rangers, failing to register a point in the last nine games and scoring just one point, a goal, in his last 13 games. Pirri has even been moved to the wing, where he feels “more comfortable,” but that hasn’t helped spark his offensive production. With Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich sidelined, getting Pirri going would be a huge bonus.

Marek Hrivik likely won’t be able to stick with the Rangers this season, mainly due to the plethora of bottom six options at hand, but tonight’s game presents an opportunity for him to solidify the fact that he can be a solid player for the team moving forward. Hrivik played well in a five game stint with the team last season, recording an assist and a plus-three rating. He leads the Wolf Pack in scoring this season with eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 20 games.

The Rangers and the Islanders will faceoff at the Barclays Center at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on MSG+.

POTENTIAL LINES

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey-Kevin Hayes-Rick Nash

JT Miller-Josh Jooris-Jesper Fast

Marek Hrivik-Brandon Pirri-Matt Puempel

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Nick Holden

Brady Skjei-Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on December 6, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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