The New York Rangers will get a small taste of what a playoff round is like when they are scheduled to play three games in the next eight days against their rival New York Islanders. On top of that, these next stretch of games will go a long way in determining whether the Blueshirts remain serious playoff contenders. The Rangers will also face an Isles team that currently sits in the third playoff spot in the Metropolitan division. Expect some playoff intensity during this stretch. Maybe that’s why the NHL schedule makers decided to throw the Carolina Hurricanes in the middle in a feeble attempt to defuse any of the extracurriculars that occur in these matchups.
The New York Have Played Well Against Their Metro Opponents
Including the three games with the Isles, 18 of the Rangers’ final 40 regular-season games this season are against teams in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers have won eight of their last nine against division opponents. Home has been good the Rangers, having won all five games against Metropolitan Division opponents at MSG this season, outscoring opponents, 21-11. However, none of those games have been against their old friends. Two of the three games are at MSG, starting with the Monday night matchup.
What the New York Rangers Can Expect From the Isles
Even though the Rangers are just .500 in their last 10 games, the Islanders have not been better. In their previous 10, they have gone 4-4-2. This includes their most recent game, a 3-2 Overtime loss to the Boston Bruins. The Rangers play a little more wide-open style than the Islanders.
The Isles have not seen a lot of power-play opportunities in recent games. They have seen on 13 power-play chances in their last nine games. That may change a bit as one can expect some physical play in a series in which Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz has said is “The Battle of New York.” The Isles have been on a bit of a scoring drought, tallying only eight goals in their last five games.
Part of the issue is that the Islanders still sit last in the league in shots on goal with 1,259 in 43 games, which averages out to just a little over 29 per game. They have been a bit better of late, averaging just over 34 shots in their last five games. Their success this season has been due to the fact that they have allowed only 110 goals on the season, the second-fewest in the league. So buckle up and get ready for what might be the two most interesting, if not essential weeks of the Rangers season.