Another year, and another chapter of one of the NHL's best rivalries will be written Monday night. The Islanders and Rangers will renew their rivalry at the Coliseum in front of what usually is an entertaining crowd.
The Islanders come in having lost their last three games and ravaged by injuries. Goalie Rick DiPietro, defensemen Freddy Meyer, Radek Martinek, Brendan Witt, and Andy Sutton are all not expected to play. DiPietro was pulled after giving up two soft goals on twelve shots in the first period of Saturday night's loss to Carolina. Freddy Meyer was also hurt in that game, and will be further evaluated on Monday. If DiPietro is unable to go the Islanders will have to rely on Joey MacDonald to be between the pipes. The Islanders have had some success against the Rangers when starting back up goalies, Wade Dubielewicz beat the Rangers three times in five starts including a crucial win in the final week of the 2006-2007 season that led to the Islanders making the playoffs.
The Rangers come in having won their last two games, and are beginning to click. New signings Wade Redden and Marcus Naslund have performed well, with Naslund scoring three goals, and six assists for nine points in eleven games and Redden scoring two goals and having a plus-minus rating of plus-three. Though the Rangers sit atop the standings in the Atlantic, they have some problems, mainly that Chris Drury has yet to score for the Rangers this season.The only real injury concern in the past week for the Rangers was coach Tom Renney, who was temporarily knocked unconscious by a stick from a Blue Jacket player.
The Islanders need this win to possibly get back on track and show their fans and players that coach Scott Gordon's new style called "overspeed" can actually work and lead to wins. If not, it won't be "overspeed", but "overmatched." The Islanders also lack an enforcer as shown in Saturday night's loss to Carolina as Nate Thompson lost badly in a fight against of all people Tim Gleason.
A Rangers win would further cement their status as the team to beat in the Atlantic after the month of October. The fans and players are satisfied with the play so far, but know they can do better. Ranger fans are always aware that the Islanders will always play them tough so it is not a gimme.
It should be an entertaining game, and hockey fans around New York and Long Island are certainly looking forward to it.