Originally written December 22, 2011 on The Rangers Tribune:
The New York Rangers will continue on with rivalry week this evening when they host the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden for the first time this season. The previous two matches between these teams, which were played in October and November, both took place at Nassau Coliseum. So far the series is split, with the Islanders taking the first match-up and Brad Richards' late third period goal clinching a win for the Rangers in their most recent meeting with the Isles.  John Tortorella's team enters this game having won their previous two games against the Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils. That has them in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 19-8-4 record in 31 games played this season. Tonight's game will be the first of a back-to-back for the Blueshirts, as they will be right back at it on Friday against the Philadelphia Flyers before the holiday break coming up this weekend.  The Islanders, meanwhile, have also won their last two games, both in a shootout. They've also went 5-1-1 on the road in their last seven games, but at the same time, haven't beat the Rangers at MSG in four straight games. The Isles, though, have been playing better hockey as of late and should put up a fight tonight under the bright Broadway lights. They are always going to come hard, and that's something that the Rangers will be expecting.  Goaltender Al Montoya suffered a concussion in the team's last game, so Evgeny Nabakov will get his third straight start against the Rangers tonight.  For the Rangers, this is just another one of those games in which they will be in extremely good shape if they dictate the pace. They will be the more rested team since the Islanders had to travel back from Winnipeg on Tuesday and they will obviously have the home crowd to their advantage as well. There is no reason why the Blueshirts should not be able to come out and take control of this game from the start - after all, they are the better team.  My fear, though, is that they may be looking past this game and looking forward to when the Flyers come in tomorrow. If that's the case, which I hope it's not, then this will be an uphill battle all game long because you know the Islanders always have games against the Rangers circled on the calendar.  This may sound random, but in the first two meetings between the Isles and Rangers, there were plenty of penalties to go around, so special teams is going to be crucial tonight. The Blueshirts have been better on the powerplay as of late thanks to Marian Gaborik and friends, but they need to continue that tonight. Both times versing the Isles this year I remember the Rangers blowing far too many opportunities with the man advantage, so if they can convert on those tonight, they may be able to bury this one quick.  With the Flyers on hand for tomorrow, Marty Biron will be in net for the Rangers while Henrik Lundqvist gets the night off. Also, Jeff Woywitka will not be able to play tonight so Tim Erixon remains in the lineup on defense.  New York Rangers Lineup
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Royals beat A's in extras, win first playoff game since '85

Mark Davis: Raiders head coaching job will be 'enticing'

Fan on Craigslist offers Nats playoff tickets for threesome

Brady snubs rookie Garoppolo after touchdown pass

Cung Le suspended for failed HGH test

FCC Chairman: Washington nickname 'inappropriate today'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brain study finds 76 of 79 deceased NFL players had CTE

Tony Sparano to step in as Raiders head coach

Eli on Geno Smith: If fans yell at you, you probably deserve it

49ers players come out in support of Jim Harbaugh

Raiders reportedly expected to make a run at Jon Gruden

FCC unanimously ends sports blackout rule

MLB.com posts wrong story saying A's won game

WATCH: Brett Favre in new nose hair trimmer commercial

WATCH: Michigan students protest, call for AD to be fired

Marlins president: We're not trading Giancarlo Stanton

Heckling Knicks fan suing team over ejection

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe: Iggy Azalea has had better career than Swaggy P

College football's post-Week 5 playoff projection

Oregon to don pink-themed unis for breast cancer awareness

Is DeMarco Murray the best RB in the NFL?

WATCH: TBS sends up 'Boom Goes the Dynamite' with promo

Ilya Bryzgalov takes photos with fans while on the bench

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!

WATCH: Brett Favre in new commercial

Brady snubs rookie after TD pass

FCC: Washington nickname 'inappropriate today'

Could Jon Gruden return to Oakland?

Marlins: We're not trading Stanton

Study: 76 of 79 deceased NFL players had CTE

Heckling fan sues Knicks over ejection

Sparano to step in as Raiders head coach

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe chooses Iggy over Swaggy P

Is DeMarco Murray the NFL's best RB?

Ilya Bryzgalov takes photos with fans while on the bench

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

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

Company Info
Help
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.