When It's Okay to Root for the Islanders in Madison Square Garden

Mike SalernoCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2010

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 26:  Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers checks  Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders on December 26, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Tonight, when the Islanders enter Madison Square Garden, I will utter a phrase that has never escaped my mouth in the last twenty years of my existence.

"Let's go Islanders."

Now, Rangers fans, before you go out and get lighter fluid and matches and all other kinds of things to inflict physical harm on me, hear me out. I want the Rangers to lose tonight. And next Tuesday. And, well, every game for the rest of the season.

The Blueshirts sit seven points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently held by the Boston Bruins. Everyone from Larry Brooks to the worst Bleacher Report contributor has said their playoff hopes are "on life support."

Even then, should the Rangers win out—which is essentially almost what they need to do—and miraculous sneak into the playoffs, they'd be looking at a first round matchup with either the Penguins or Capitals, two teams that would easily dispatch them en route to what Gary Bettman hopes is a playoff grudge match in the Eastern Conference finals.

Is it really worth getting the uneducated mass of Rangers fans all hot and bothered for four—okay, maybe five—meaningless playoff games to cap off another year of mediocrity?

There's something at stake which has much bigger implications on the future of both franchises than two games that will establish bragging rights among the idiots.

Yes, two losses to Gordon's Fishermen would be devastating to watch, and we'd have to hear about it for the next few weeks, but think about what it would mean with regards to the Eastern Conference standings.

I've been rooting against the Rangers for the better part of the season, as many of you may well know. In fact, I was probably the only Rangers' fan annoyed when the team jumped out to a 7-1 start. I told my friends it was all smoke and mirrors then, but nobody wanted to listen. But tonight, the Rangers have something to accomplish. That is, by losing, of course.

According to TSN , the Rangers currently have the seventh greatest chance of winning the 2010 NHL Draft Lottery. The Islanders, with 14.2 percent chance, sit third. These percentage points are based on the final regular season standings.

Three points separate the Islanders and the Panthers, who currently have the eighth best odds of landing the top pick. Should the Islanders take care of the Rangers in these consecutive meetings, they would move up considerably with less than 10 games to go.

Now you ask, what's the difference between the Islanders picking third and picking eighth or ninth?

Do a quick Google search on Cam Fowler. Trust me, you don't want him to fall into the Islanders' lap.

Besides, we don't even need to go into the Islanders' past history with regards to draft pick decisions. That Josh Bailey pick really worked out well, huh? I mean he's way better than Michael Del Zotto, Jordan Eberle—Canada's Next One —or Tyler Myers, who is challenging Matt Duchene and The Great Tavares for this year's Rookie of the Year award.

Conversely, the Rangers could benefit greatly from selecting in the top five. Adding a player like Vladimir Tarasenko, who has drawn comparisons to the consensus top two, Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, would be enough to consider this season of frustration a success.

Forget about playing for pride. I hate that term. If you're in high school, when you're 3-14 and playing out your last days as a senior, sure. Leave it all out there.

When you're a professional sports franchise, you're as much a business as you are a team. It would be a wise business decision to finish as low you possibly could this year, especially when it could be the difference between an impact player and Hugh Jessiman .

But what about the Metro Ice Challenge, you ask? Show me someone not employed by MSG who cares about that and I'll show you someone more pathetic than an Islanders' season ticket holder.

So for the sake of the future, say it with me one time!




Ugh, damn. This is harder than I thought.