Nothing like a rivalry game at the Garden right? The Rangers play the Islanders on Wednesday at 7pm on MSG - or in MSG on 3d or even real life 3d. Considering the state of the franchise, there should be plenty of seats available inside the Garden itself for lower-than-face values... And still, why would anyone pay $20 to watch it on tv wearing stupid glasses at the Theater? To hear Messier and company re-hash '94 during breaks? Shameless money grab by the Blueshirts as per usual, they just want blood from a stone. But we knew that.
Where We Are: Just signed a kid from Alaska who likely won't see the light of the NHL for at least two seasons, if at all. I read somewhere Jess from Prospect Park being unimpressed by the kid but don't recall where it was. Either way, even with Girardi getting the boot this summer, the other five guys aren't going anywhere for a while and Ryan McDonagh is already being pencilled in for next season by some. And next season is what we should be concentrating on as the Rangers are five points behind the Bruins, who have a game in hand.
Where They Are: Despite a roster that is largely devoid of talent outside of JT, the Isles are just three points behind the Blueshirts. How pathetic is that? Damn Rangers. The Isles are 4-4-2 since the Olympics but only one of the six losses was by more than one goal. The kids are trying, and it is admirable considering that their captain is out for the year and the blueline is so badly battered; they have Radek Martinek and Andy MacDonald out with injury and had traded away Andy Sutton at the deadline. DP is also injured, but there is no news with that, just laughs.
Who To Watch For: JT is good, Kyle Okposo may actually be a decent player some day and Matt Moulson has surprised many with his work this season. But it would be no surprise to see Blake Comeau, Jon Sim or Trent Hunter come through for the Fishermen. Hunter hasn't scored in 16 games, looks like he is facing the Rangers at the right time. I enjoy watching Richard Park - just look at the picture, the guy will do anything for his team. He doesn't have much skill but the guy works his ass off, and that is always appreciated. Even for an Islander.
What To Watch For: If Rolo starts in net, we know he can face a lot of shots and shut down the opposition. And with Avery and Cally possibly out with injury, there should be little actual pressure on the Isles net so Rolo's life will be that much easier. See how many bad penalties the Rangers take, if Olli Jokinen can get break that three mark he set last game. See how bad the Ranger power play is. See all of the Islander fans in the building - and there will be a lot of them - talk trash and pick fights, because everyone loves to kick a dog when it is down and these Rangers are dogs.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: Cally and Avery taking the night off to heal and Alex Auld giving Hank a break ... hey, I said hopefully. You know Torts will start Hank and pressure Cally and Avery to come back in a futile gesture to get the points and keep the illusion of playoff hopes alive. Some goals would be nice. A good fight or two - it can be in the stands for all I care; actually it would be better there because the fans actually care. Someone to hit Sean Bergenheim, that guy is annoying.
Also Check Out: Mike the Islesblogger, Dee the obsessed Isles 7th Woman (she has another at Eklund's site but I won't link that place), Chris Botta's Point Blank and Lighthouse Hockey, the mandatory SBN blog.