Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 11/15/11

By Alexander Monaghan
President

The New York Rangers have won their past six games while tonight’s opponent and natural rival New York Islanders have lost their past three games. Nevertheless, if there is one team that the Isles could wake up against, it would be the Rangers.

This Ranger team is playing at a higher level, one that New York City has not seen in a number of seasons. While offseason acquisition Brad Richards has not been the team’s savior, his presence in the lineup actually has helped the club field three scoring lines. It seems like the pressure on him has helped almost every other player elevate their game to a higher level.

Tonight’s expected starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist has won his past four games. Backup Martin Biron has won three straight of his own. The power play is hot with a 20 percent efficiency rate over the past nine games. Ryan McDonagh is tied for seventh in the League with three goals himself. Four members of the top six — Ryan Callahan, Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik — are all scoring at a point-per-game pace or more over their past couple of games. Even Dan Girardi looks like an All-Star candidate, helping the team forget about the loss of leader Marc Staal.

However, all of those accolades change against the Islanders, who are desperate for a win. In their last meeting, the Isles delivered a debilitating, 4-2 loss to the Rangers in a game where the team moved away from their game. The Isles have the reputation of going hard out of the gate which is a surge coach John Tortorella and company are going to need to prevent in order to win. From Ranger Rants:

“We’re going to play our game, that’s what we’re looking to try to do,” Tortorella said. “What’s happened here before or what you guys want to talk about, we’re going to continue to try to play our game.”

Clearly doesn’t sound like Tortorella is overly concerned in their early start but he does have their most recent loss in the back of his mind.

In the loss, John Tavares potted a hat trick can be broken down into two power play goals and an empty netter. Over this six game streak, the Rangers penalty kill is 93.3 percent which would be second in the League over a full season. If you exclude their first three games (which includes the loss to the Isles) the team holds an even healthier 90.2 percent kill rate.

On paper, these Rangers should dominate the Isles as they have outscored them by 13 goals, out-defended them by 12 goals and essentially outplayed them in every other counting stat. However, you simply cannot predict a rivalry game and a wildcard, young team like the Islanders.

The big problem with the club has been their top six. Head coach Jack Capuano will not disclose his lineup prior to tonight’s game but it is believed that red-hot, blue-chip prospect Nino Neiderreiter will draw back in tonight. The rookie skated with Tavares during the preseason to better results, so he may jumpstart a line that has previously dominated.

One thing is for sure, these Rangers will need to defeat the Islanders by continuing their current pace and not sitting back. If they chose the latter, then this current hot streak will be a distant memory.

 

 


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