Isles look to get back on track against Rangers
by Christian Arnold/Correspondent
It’s the battle for New York, round one.
Both teams need a win, though the Islanders may need the win more because, well, they’re the Islanders. Let’s face it: Despite being ahead of the Rangers, who are going through similar struggles, it is the Islanders who should be most concerned.
Sarcasm aside, the Isles need to snap this little losing skid before it becomes a full-blown slump. The last two games, their power play has been more comparable to the blackout at the Super Bowl than the league-leading unit the Islanders had to start the season. Even the penalty kill has dropped from the No. 1 ranking it had earlier in the week.
“The importance of the game tomorrow makes everything bigger,” Frans Nielsen told the Islanders website. “We want to get back on track and get back to winning. I’m sure they want to do the same thing, so it’s going to be a real battle.”
The Rangers know how important this game is, too. Last game, their power-play unit, which is ranked 30th in the league, went 0-for-5 against New Jersey Tuesday. And their PK unit, which is 17th in the league, gave up a goal in four attempts by the Devils.
Worst of all, what was expected to be an explosive offense has been anything but for a Blueshirts squad that’s 26th in the league with an average of 2.22 goals per game.
But despite all that this will be what Islanders-Rangers games usually are: a battle.
The Islanders can ill afford to allow the Rangers to jump on the scoreboard first. New York is undefeated when scoring the game’s first goal. So a slow start, like the one the Islanders had on Monday against Pittsburgh, is not something they want to repeat.
And the power play? Well the power play has to convert against the Rangers tonight. At times on Monday, the man advantage looked like it had when it was leading the league. But those moments were few and far between.
"We have to score on the power play," Mark Streit told Newsday. "We have five great players on the ice and we need to be better."
Ironically, five-on-five play may have been the strongest it has been all season.
Tonight’s game may not be make or break for either team, but for the Isles, dropping three games in a row is not ideal in this shortened season.