Matt Moulson (left) and John Tavares sign autographs for fans.
With the NHL season only less than a month away, I figured I'd compare the Islanders and the Rangers and explain my opinion of who has the edge in different categories. I'm a big Islander fan, but I'll do my best to avoid bias here.
The New York Rangers definitely beat the Islanders out in the goaltending category. Henrik Lundqvist is a great goalie, and along with the addition of former last-season Islander Marty Biron, the Rangers have a depth in goal. The duo beats out the tandem of Isles Dwayne Roloson and Rick DiPietro. There's no telling how either will perform this year. Roloson will be turning 41 years of age at the beginning of the season. Hopefully, on the last year of his contract, and at this old age, he'll give the Isles solid net-work. As for DiPietro, injury has plagued him for several seasons now. From lower body to knee swelling, Rick has been frail of late. It'd be a nice miracle for the Islanders if DiPietro stayed healthy, and turned in a solid year like the DiPietro of old.
Immediate offense- Islanders
This is debatable, but I'd have to hand this one off to the Islanders. I'm aware the Rangers have Marion Gaborik, the 42 goal scoring forward. But their next best forwards are Vinny Prospal, who scored around 20 goals, and Alex Frolov, who the Rangers expect big things out of. The Islanders have Matt Moulson, who after scoring 30 goals will try to prove to us he's not a one-year wonder. John Tavares. Need I say more? The impressive rookie tallied 24 goals last season, and I'm looking forward to his sophomore season. Tavares grew in the off season, got bigger, faster, and stronger. I would be shocked if Tavares doesn't score at least 30 goals. Heck, it'd be nice to see him pull a Stamkos. Many other players such as Okposo, Bailey, and Hunter will be offensive threats as well. The Rangers won't go too far with only three decent scorers.
Offensive depth- Islanders
Even Ranger fans have to agree with me on this one. As mentioned earlier, Gaborik, Prospal, and Frolov can't carry the whole offense. The Islanders have Moulson, Tavares, Okposo, Bailey, Schremp, Hunter, Comeau, Streit, etc. Most of these men are probable to put up at least 15 goals, along with the big guns like Tavares and Moulson who target around 30. All these kids are maturing, and their numbers will only get better with time. These young kids will also supply more energy than the Rangers older, but more experienced offense.
Another close call, but I'd have to hand it off to the Rangers. Eric Staal, young Michael Del Zotto, Michael Rozival, Wayne Redden will score less goals than the Islanders likes of Mark Streit and James Wizniewski, but will provide Lundqvist and Biron with a better wall on defense, which may be important in close games.
Islanders will most likely have decent goaltending and defense, but not as strong as the Rangers. However, the Islanders will have a better offense, also in depth. Even a few Ranger fans have agreed with me the Isles will have a better season. The Rangers will be decent, but without more on offense, won't fare as well as the Islanders. Also, the Islanders, with the worse defense and goaltending, might lose a game or two after giving a lead away. My prediction is the Islanders and Rangers will be near eachother for the whole season, with the Isles possibly a spot ahead in the standings.