Tag Archives: Battle of New York

February 16 – Day 120 – Battle in the Big Apple

Congratulations! At game time tonight, there’s only one more day of work before the weekend! To celebrate, I’d recommend hockey.

You have a wide selection of games to choose from this evening, as 16 teams are in action this evening. Per usual, contests start at 7 p.m. with three games (the New York Rangers at the New York Islanders [TVAS], Ottawa at New Jersey [RDS] and Winnipeg at Pittsburgh), followed half an hour later by Colorado at Buffalo (NBCSN). Two games drop the puck at 8 p.m. (Vancouver at St. Louis [SN/SN360] and Dallas at Minnesota), with Philadelphia at Edmonton waiting an hour before getting underway. Finally, Arizona at Los Angeles – tonight’s nightcap – gets the green light at 10:30 p.m. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • New York at New York: The situation has certainly changed since the last time these rivals met.
  • Dallas at Minnesota: Remember last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinals? The Stars beat the Wild in six games.

The Battle of New York has some huge short-term implications on the standings. Pair that pressure with the rivalry and we should have a good game on our hands.

New York Rangers LogoNew York Islanders Logo






The 37-18-1 Rangers aren’t back to Madison Square Garden yet! After going to Columbus and beating the Blue Jackets 3-2 for their sixth-straight victory, the Blueshirts complete their two-game road trip with a stop at the Barclays Center in possession of fourth place in both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference. When they’re at their peak – and they are right now – the Rangers are an offensive-minded team, as they’ve scored 190 goals so far this season, the third-most in the league.

The man leading that charge is none other than J.T. Miller, a fifth-year left wing from the Plymouth Whalers. Although he’s one of four Rangers with at least 40 points to his credit, he tops the club with his 46. Many of those points have been assists though, and that’s where Michael Grabner, the right wing on the Blueshirts‘ third line, comes into play. Grabner has buried the puck 26 times this season to lead the team.

Yes, you read that correctly: third line. No matter who is on the ice, the Rangers are potent.

Playing host this evening are the 25-20-10 Islanders, the sixth-best team in the Metropolitan and 10th in the East. The main reason the Isles find themselves on the outside of playoff contention is due to their defense, which has allowed 162 goals in 55 games – the sixth-worst rate in the NHL.

17-10-3 Thomas Greiss has been charged with manning the crease more often than not this season, and for good reason: his .918 season save percentage and 2.55 GAA are the best on the team. And those are solid numbers even when compared to the rest of the league. He ranks (t)16th and (t)19th, respectively, against the 50 other netminders with at least 15 appearances this season.

No, the goals are not on Greiss’ head. Instead, I point the finger at an Islanders defense that allows 32.4 shots to reach his crease per game, the fourth-worst effort in the NHL. Although Calvin de Haan has been an absolute shot blocking machine (his 141 blocks not only lead the team, but are also fourth-most in the league), he is the only blueliner with more than 110 blocks to his credit. If Garth Snow thinks it’s in the card for his club to qualify for the playoffs, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Isles make a move for another defenseman.

Although the Isles‘ offense as a whole has been adequate this season, one part of their game that still needs to improve is the power play. Even with Captain John Tavares‘ team-leading 14 power play points, the Islanders only convert 16% of opponents’ penalties into goals – the sixth-worst rate in the NHL. Anders Lee has been the final man responsible for most of the limited success the Islanders have found this season, as he’s buried seven goals with the man-advantage, one more than Tavares.

Although these clubs are separated by only a half-hour train ride, this is only the third time this season they’ve met. It’s been an even series so far, as both teams have won a game and lost one in regulation. The last time they met was December 6, when the Islanders beat the Rangers 4-2 on this surface.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include the IslandersJosh Bailey (27 assists [leads the team]), Dennis Seidenberg (+18 [best on the team]) and Tavares (46 points [leads the team]) & the Rangers‘ Grabner (26 goals [tied for sixth-most in the league] for a +28 [tied for sixth-best in the NHL]) and Henrik Lundqvist (26 wins [tied for seventh-most in the league]) or Antti Raanta (2.32 GAA [10th-best in the NHL]).

By the narrowest of margins, Vegas has marked the Islanders to win tonight’s game with a -105 line. Unfortunately for them, that’s not the way I see this game going. The Rangers are red-hot right now, and that offense will be more than enough to overpower the Isles‘ miserable defense.

Hockey Birthday

  • Lanny McDonald (1953-) – If for nothing else, this right wing deserved to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame for his mustache alone, but four All-Star appearances and the 1989 Stanley Cup don’t hurt. He was drafted fourth-overall by Toronto in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft, but he spent most of his 16-year career in Calgary.

Although Detroit tried valiantly with the sixth attacker, they were unable to break First Star of the Game Carter Hutton, who earned a two-goal shutout victory for the Blues in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

With St. Louis‘ first shot of the game, Second Star Ivan Barbashev (Kenny Agostino and Carl Gunnarsson) takes credit for the game-winning goal. He buried his wrist shot 2:06 after the beginning of play.

The only goal in the game was an unassisted wrister by Jaden Schwartz on an open net with 11 seconds remaining on the clock.

Hutton earns the shutout victory after saving all 25 shots he faced, leaving the loss to Third Star Petr Mrazek, who saved 27-of-28 (96.4%).

The Blues‘ victory is the third-straight by the road team in the DtFR Game of the Day series, which pulls visitors within two points of the 62-42-18 hosts.

*Also, don’t tell anybody, but St. Louis just swept it’s five-game road trip.*

December 6 – Day 55 – On either end of the spectrum

It’s another busy Tuesday in the NHL! Per usual, the action gets started at 7 p.m. with four games (Edmonton at Buffalo, Vancouver at New Jersey, the New York Rangers at the New York Islanders [SN1] and Florida at Philadelphia), trailed an hour later by three more (Montréal at St. Louis [RDS], Colorado at Nashville [TVAS] and Detroit at Winnipeg). Two contests (Arizona at Chicago and Calgary at Dallas) share nightcap responsibilities, and they fulfill that duty quickly dropping the puck at 8:30 p.m. All times eastern.

  • New York at New York: In addition to being bitter rivals, the Rangers barely held off the Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan Division a season ago.
  • Calgary at Dallas: Jyrki Jokipakka played the last two seasons in the American Airlines Center, but tonight he wears white with the visitors.

Since the defenseman never played a full season in Dallas, I think we need to tune in to the Battle of New York.

New York Rangers LogoNew York Islanders Logo






Yes, I’m as disappointed as you that this is probably definitely a cover. Not only did I check it by ear, but Shazam also won’t recognize this cut of the track. Dang you, Taylor Swift, and your restrictive and inconvienent, yet probably well-informed distrust of music streaming sites!

Anyways, the Rangers enter tonight’s game with a 17-8-1 record and have the opportunity to surpass Montréal for the best mark in the Eastern Conference should the Habs fall. They’ve gotten to that position riding their incredible offense that has struck 95 goals already this season, far-and-away the most in the league.

For most teams, 19 points should not be leading the club. Unless that club is the Rangers, which has two 19-point scorers, followed by an 18-pointer, three 17-pointers, etc. You get the idea. Those two leaders with 19-points are Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller. Both those skaters’ impacts have been evenly split between goals and assists, which leaves the scoring lead open to Michael Grabner, who has already lit the lamp 13 times this season.

Effectively, the easiest thing to say about New York‘s offense is this: Almost. Every. Single. Skater. Is. A. Weapon. You have been warned, Brooklyn.

Part of the reason for that success has been a successful power play. The Rangers‘ 22.7% conversion rate ranks sixth-best in the NHL. Led by Rick Nash‘s team-leading four extra-man goals and six power play points, the Blueshirts have struck 17 man-advantage goals already this season.

The other special team has also been very good. The Rangers‘ penalty kill ranks ninth-best, stopping their opposition 85.1% of the time. Kevin Klein gets to take a lot of credit for the success, as he leads the team with 13 shorthanded blocks.

As good as the Rangers have been, the Islanders have been bad. In fact, they are the worst team in the conference, due almost entirely to their lackluster offense, capable of only 61 goals so far this year – the seventh-fewest in the league.

Nineteen seems to be the magic number in the Big Apple, as that’s exactly how many points Captain John Tavares has as well. Unfortunately for him, he’s not backed by a bunch of others with similar totals. Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson have tied for second-most productive, but with only 15 points on their resumes. Three skaters lead the Isles with six goals: Anders Lee, Nelson and Tavares.

Not surprisingly, the power play hasn’t treated the Boys from Brooklyn any better. Their 11.6% success rate with the man-advantage is the worst in the league. Equally expected, Tavares has taken the lead on this department of play as well, as his five power play points is best on the team, as do his two man-advantage tallies.

Some players to keep an eye on tonight include the IslandersDennis Seidenberg (+12 [tied for ninth-best in the league]) & the Rangers‘ Grabner (+19 [best in the NHL] on 13 goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]), Hayes (+16 [third-best in the NHL]) and Henrik Lundqvist (12 wins [tied for sixth-most in the league]) or Antti Raanta (.931 save percentage [tied for sixth-best in the NHL]).

I pick New York to win this game.

In all seriousness, there should be no way the Rangers lose this game. Vegas has marked the Islanders a +120 underdog, and I think that’s far too narrow a margin. It won’t pay out much, but if you’re the gambling type you should definitely pick the Blueshirts.

Hockey Birthday

  • Matt Niskanen (1986-) – The 28th-overall pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by Dallas, this defenseman is currently in his third season with Washington. So far this season, his nine points is second-most among the Capitals‘ defensive corps.

If you like offense and goal-scoring, yesterday’s Game of the Day was for you, as Pittsburgh beat the visiting Senators 8-5.

Hopefully this summary won’t be too long-winded.

First Star of the Game Bryan Rust (Second Star Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang) opened the scoring for Pittsburgh only 1:45 into the game, but their lead lasted only 6:33 before Kyle Turris (Ryan Dzingel and Chris Wideman) leveled for the Senators. The Penguins regained the lead only 27 seconds before Sidney Crosby (Conor Sheary and Ian Cole) regained the lead with a wrist shot. 6:16 before the first intermission, Erik Karlsson (Mark Stone) buried a wrist shot to tie the game at two-all.

A minute after returning to the ice, Stone’s (Dion Phaneuf and Karlsson) power play backhander gave the Sens their first lead of the game, which doubled 6:08 later when Mike Hoffman (Karlsson and Stone) scored a power play snap shot. Matt Cullen (Rust) set the score at 4-3 with a shorthanded backhander only 80 seconds later, and Third Star Phil Kessel (Justin Schultz and Cole) tied the game with 5:47 remaining in the second period. Schultz (Malkin and Kessel) scored a goal of his own 24 seconds later to give the Penguins a 5-4 lead that held into the second intermission.

Malkin (Kessel) takes credit for the eventual game-winning goal with a backhander only 1:05 after retaking the ice. Ottawa could manage only one more goal in the game, courtesy of a Phaneuf (Turris and Karlsson) wrister at the 6:17 mark. Rust scored both insurance goals, the first a penalty shot and the second an empty-netter assisted by Chris Kunitz and Brian Dumoulin.

Matthew Murray takes credit for Pittsburgh‘s victory, saving 17-of-18 shots faced (94.4%). He replaced starter Marc-Andre Fleury, who saved 12-of-16 (75%) before being replaced after Hoffman’s lead-taking goal 7:08 into the second period. Fleury, of course, earned no decision.

Craig Anderson takes the loss after saving 36-of-43 shots faced (83.7%). He was replaced by ex-Penguin Mike Condon with 7:24 remaining in regulation (the score was then 7-5), who was the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker before Rust’s third goal. Condon saved both shots he faced and, just like Fleury, he earned no decision.

The Penguins‘ victory increases the home sides’ lead over the roadies to four points in the DtFR Game of the Day series, advancing their record to 30-19-8.