NHL

Rangers vs. Islanders: Preview and Prediction for Stadium Series Game

Tom Urtz Jr.Contributor IJanuary 29, 2014

Rangers vs. Islanders: Preview and Prediction for Stadium Series Game

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    The Stadium Series continues with Rangers vs. Isles.
    The Stadium Series continues with Rangers vs. Isles.Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    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.

Viewing Information

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    The rink on display at Yankee Stadium.
    The rink on display at Yankee Stadium.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Date: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

    Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

    Network: NBCSN

    Forecast: Clear skies, 21 degree and 15 mph winds

Tale of the Tape

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    The Rangers and Islanders have a storied rivalry.
    The Rangers and Islanders have a storied rivalry.Scott Levy/Getty Images
    Stats courtesy of NHL.com
    TeamNew York RangersNew York Islanders
    Record28-23-321-26-8
    Points5950
    Rank2nd in Metropolitan Division8th in Metropolitan Division
    Leading ScorerBrad Richards: 13-25-38John Tavares: 23-41-64

Probable Lineups

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    This game could be decided by role players.
    This game could be decided by role players.Scott Levy/Getty Images

    New York Rangers


    Forwards

    Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Rick Nash
    Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan
    Benoit Pouliot, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello
    Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore, Daniel Carcillo

    Defense

    Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi
    Marc Staal, Anton Stralman
    John Moore, Kevin Klein 

    Goaltenders

    Henrik Lundqvist
    Cam Talbot

     

    New York Islanders


    Forwards

    Kyle Okposo, Thomas Vanek, John Tavares 
    Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck, Frans Nielsen
    Colin McDonald, Brock Nelson, Michael Grabner
    Matt Martin, Eric Boulton, Casey Cizikas

    Defense

    Brian Strait, Andrew MacDonald 
    Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan
    Lubomir Visnovsky, Thomas Hickey

    Goaltenders

    Evgeni Nabokov
    Kevin Poulin

Players to Watch

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    Nash has been clutch for the Rangers throughout the month.
    Nash has been clutch for the Rangers throughout the month.Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    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.

     

Key Matchups

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    These two players will be very familiar by the end of the game.
    These two players will be very familiar by the end of the game.Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    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.

New York Rangers Will Win If...

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    Zuccarello scored two goals on Sunday.
    Zuccarello scored two goals on Sunday.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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.

New York Islanders Will Win If...

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    Tavares will be a player to watch on Wednesday.
    Tavares will be a player to watch on Wednesday.Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    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.

Prediction

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    The Rangers should win this game.
    The Rangers should win this game.Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    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.

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