The Stadium Series continues with Rangers vs. Isles.
The Stadium Series at Yankee Stadium will conclude with the New York matchup pitting the Rangers against the Islanders, and Wednesday night's contest should be a very entertaining one. The Rangers improved to 2-0 in outdoor contests with a victory over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, and they look to best their other rival on Wednesday night.
This is a game that should draw a lot of attention, because every game between these two teams has a playoff-like atmosphere. The action gets underway shortly, so here is a primer for the matchup between the Rangers and Isles.
The rink on display at Yankee Stadium.
Date: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Forecast: Clear skies, 21 degree and 15 mph winds
The Rangers and Islanders have a storied rivalry.
|Team||New York Rangers||New York Islanders|
|Rank||2nd in Metropolitan Division||8th in Metropolitan Division|
|Leading Scorer||Brad Richards: 13-25-38||John Tavares: 23-41-64|
This game could be decided by role players.
New York Rangers
Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Rick Nash
Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan
Benoit Pouliot, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello
Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore, Daniel Carcillo
Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi
Marc Staal, Anton Stralman
John Moore, Kevin Klein
New York Islanders
Kyle Okposo, Thomas Vanek, John Tavares
Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck, Frans Nielsen
Colin McDonald, Brock Nelson, Michael Grabner
Matt Martin, Eric Boulton, Casey Cizikas
Brian Strait, Andrew MacDonald
Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan
Lubomir Visnovsky, Thomas Hickey
Nash has been clutch for the Rangers throughout the month.
New York Rangers: Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh
Rick Nash has been on fire lately. The Blueshirts have played 13 games this month, and Nash has scored 11 goals during that stretch. He is starting to heat up at the right time, and his surging play has helped the Rangers in their pursuit of a coveted playoff spot.
Ryan McDonagh signed a new contract extension during the summer, and he has more than lived up to his end of the bargain. McDonagh has made a name for himself as a shutdown defender over the past few years, but he added offense to his repertoire this season.
McDonagh is a player to watch because he will be tasked with defending the Isles' top line throughout the game.
New York Islanders: Evgeni Nabokov and Kyle Okposo
Evgeni Nabokov was just activated off injured reserve, and there is a good chance he will start this game. It will be interesting to see if his inactivity will best him during this unusual contest. The ice wasn't great on Sunday, and he could have trouble tracking pucks in addition to other challenges associated with a long layoff.
Kyle Okposo has been one of the Islanders' top players all year long, and he loves playing the Rangers. This season he has three points in three games versus the Blueshirts, and he will look to finish the month strong. During the month of January, Okposo has 17 points in 13 games.
These two players will be very familiar by the end of the game.
New York Islanders' Top Line vs. New York Rangers' Top Defense Pairing
The Islanders' offense has been very dynamic this season, and the play of John Tavares and Thomas Vanek has allowed the team to average 2.74 goals per game. There are a number of weapons on the top line, and they could put up some absurd numbers during conditions that benefit shooters as opposed to the goaltender.
The ice isn't optimal, lighting is different than usual, and weather conditions can impair a goaltender's ability to track and see the puck. Therefore, Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi could have a tough night trying to contain the Islanders' top offensive threats.
The winner of this pivotal matchup could determine the outcome of this game.
Zuccarello scored two goals on Sunday.
The Blueshirts will sweep the Stadium Series if they continue their game plan from Sunday against the New Jersey Devils. After a rough first period, the Rangers regrouped and scored six unanswered goals against Martin Brodeur.
They simplified their game, and they took advantage of the Devils' mistakes. The Rangers continually pressured the Devils, and it enabled them to beat Brodeur with shots from all angles.
Heading into Wednesday, the Rangers will be more comfortable with the on-ice conditions, so they won't need to make as many in-game adjustments.
If the Rangers pester Nabokov with shots and play a simple game, they will emerge victorious.
Tavares will be a player to watch on Wednesday.
The Isles will win their first outdoor game in team history if their offense plays like it did against the Rangers during their last meeting. During the game in question, the offense was very aggressive and dynamic. It scored four goals against Cam Talbot and an empty-netter to boot.
Thomas Vanek was a dominant force during that game, and he could be an impact player on Wednesday night.
In addition, the Islanders will need to keep their game simple, because they are not used to the outdoor conditions. If the Islanders can get their offense going, limit their mistakes and limit the Rangers' offense, they will pick up an important two points.
The Rangers should win this game.
Final Score: New York Rangers 4, New York Islanders 2
The Rangers' offense has been clicking, and Rick Nash is hot. The Blueshirts have the edge coming into this game because this will be their third outdoor game in cold winter conditions. They are used to the bouncing pucks and the poor visibility. They are better equipped to succeed in the elements.
The Islanders will put up a fight in this game, but they will come up short after the Rangers seal the game with an empty-net goal just before time expires in the third period.