Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 10/18/14
Hearing the words “first place” before “New York Rangers” never gets old, and with a win
tonight, the phrase “first place” will take on a whole new meaning for the Blueshirts. At the moment, the Rangers lead the Atlantic Division with a 21-8-4 record, but are second to the Boston Bruins (23-9-1) in the Eastern Conference. With the Bruins not in action tonight, the Rangers can surpass the B’s for first place in the East if they find a way to earn two points out of the Isles. For obvious reasons, this isn’t a predicament the Rangers mind being in the middle of at all. The Rangers are coming off an emotional 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night, right before splitting up for the holiday break this past weekend. In a game that had loads of hype surrounding it prior to puck drop with it being a preview to the 2012 Winter Classic and all, New York dealt with the added pressure and audience just fine and was able to take over the division in the process. The night before that contained a match-up between the Rangers and the rival Islanders, which also ended in favor of the Blueshirts, 4-2. With that win, the Rangers improved to 2-1-0 against the Isles this season, which they will be looking to extend to 3-1-0 in tonight’s rematch at Madison Square Garden. As for the Islanders, they dropped back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday, with the second being a 5-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nassau Coliseum. At this point, the Rangers are probably the last team the Islanders want to be facing right now since each of their last two losses to their rivals have been extremely frustrating for them, and frustration is not what they want to be dealing with after a poorly-officiated outing on Friday. I think my buddy, who’s an Islander fan, spoke on behalf of the team and their fans the other night when saying this to me: “We really have to [expletive] play you guys again?” On the Rangers’ side of things, they couldn’t be happier with the match-up. As we saw last week in a divisional-packed schedule, John Tortorella’s squad absolutely loves playing in rivalry games and, for the most part, they have a very solid record when doing so this year. I give some credit to the coach for always making sure his team is alive and ready for these games, and a little extra push or urgency for the Rangers tonight may be exactly what they need to take over first in the East. The most impressive part of the Rangers’ game as of late, at least in my opinion, has been their defense. As I discussed in this morning’s article, the Rangers are without four of their top seven defensemen, yet have still been lights out in their own zone against some of the NHL’s better teams. The jobs that call-ups Stu Bickel and Tim Erixon have done are amazing, especially Bickel, who picked up another two points in Friday’s win over Philly. And credit to Michael Del Zotto as well, because he’s really turned his game around nicely after a rocky start to the season. On both sides of the puck, Michael has been playing smarter hockey, and that’s will keep him in the lineup long-term. As far as tonight's lineup goes, it appears that no changes will be made, which means both Erixon and Bickel stay in on defense and Henrik Lundqvist will be in goal. New York Rangers Lineup
* Good news for defenseman Marc Staal if you haven't heard already, as he's officially been cleared for contact. Read more on that in my report from earlier.

Royals take Game 2 to even series with Giants

Report: Roger Goodell will have to testify in Ray Rice case

Report: Zach Mettenberger to start for Titans over Locker

LaMarr Woodley likely done for season with biceps injury

Report: Some Seahawks think Wilson isn’t 'black enough'

Darrelle Revis sent home for being late, misses practice


Report: Texas to pay scholarship athletes $10K per year

Report: Widespread academic fraud occurred at North Carolina

NHL postpones Senators/Leafs game after Ottawa shootings

Lions send player home from London after cutting him

Brandon Marshall on Jay Cutler: We're like brothers

NBA Board of Governors votes against NBA draft lottery reform

WATCH: Giants pitcher yells at Salvador Perez after HR

Kiffin's mom fears for son's safety in return to Tennessee

WATCH: Penguins perform 'O Canada' following tragedy

WATCH: Cutest grandma challenges Dwyane Wade to game of one-on-one

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

Porn star: No one parties harder than Sebastian Janikowski

Outrageous college football predictions: Week 9

World Series Game 2 Preview: Giants vs. Royals

Michigan St. fans troll Michigan campus, paint 'M' green

NFL MVP Watch Week 8: Is Manning still the King?

Fan blows $300 buying hot dogs for his section at World Series

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Kiffin's mom worried for son's safety

Report: Goodell will have to testify

Penguins do 'O Canada' following tragedy

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Porn star: No one parties like Janikowski

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

The San Francisco Giants are zombies

10 bold predictions for NFL Week 8

Pitcher's wife leaves generous tip

Nicklaus defends Jameis Winston

NFL players who could be traded by the deadline

Royals fans sleeping during Game 1

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.