After beating the Isles last week at the Garden, the Rangers will have a chance to repeat the feat at the Mausoleum on Tuesday at 7 p.m. on MSG, and no, this one won't be in 3d. The facilities in Uniondale are barely good enough to put out a 2d signal.
Where We Are: Tim Thomas continued his suck job this season for Boston and the Bruins lost to Buffalo last night, keeping that damned door open for the Blueshirts. That was the B's game in hand so with 75 games played, they have 80 points to the Rangers' 76 (Atlanta has 78 in 76 games played). Philly and Montreal each have 82 points in 76 games so, frankly, any of the five teams could make the playoffs with a decent run to end the season.
Where They Are: In the running for a lotto pick. The Islanders are even with Florida and Tampa (both of whom we play this week) with 72 points - third-worse in the NHL ahead of Toronto (who we play next week) and Edmonton. After losing last Wednesday to the Rangers, the Isles beat Calgary and Columbus to enter this on a win 'streak.'
Who To Watch For: The Islanders scored seven goals in those two wins and they came from seven different players so there is no one hot hand. So keep an eye on the usual suspects in JT, Okposo and Streit as well as Jon Sim, Blake Comeau and Matt Moulson - all of whom step up against the Blueshirts. Dwayne Roloson has made more than 30 saves in six of his last seven starts but, that being said, he played last game so the Rangers could very well face Martin Biron, who got the W against the Flames.
What To Watch For: How the Rangers come out without their two biggest sparkplugs in Sean Avery and Ryan Callahan. How the call-ups handle their slots - especially little Corey Locke, who was brought in from Hartford Tuesday. Locke has starred in the AHL (80 points in 73 games) but will be playing just his second NHL game. If Torts is smart and puts the little puck distributor with Marian Gaborik on the power play, perhaps the unit could actually score a goal or two. Perhaps.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: I may not want the Rangers to make the playoffs, but that desire pales in comparison to my loathing for the Isles so how about we go for another five goal explosion? Gabby showing up to dominate. No more good Rangers getting hurt (hey, Wade, that doesn't include you). Chris Drury to recapture his anti-Isles magic. The Islanders tanking for a better shot at the draft lottery.
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, SBN's Isles blog.