Thursday, February 7, 2013

Litmus Test

On Thursday (2/7) night we'll learn a little more about the New York Islanders, as they take on the New York Rangers for the first time this season.

The game will be played in Madison Square Garden, which hasn't exactly been kind to them in recent times. The Blue and Orange have lost eight in a row in that building.

The Rangers, who were picked by many before the season began as favorites to win the Eastern Conference, find themselves in the somewhat surprising position of looking up at the Islanders in the standings. The Blueshirts have opened their campaign with a 4-5-0 record, notching one fewer point than the team from Uniondale.

Both teams have been slumping offensively as of late. The Rangers are averaging a meager 2.2 goals per game so far this season. The Islanders haven't converted a power play chance in 14 tries, dropping their two most recent games.

I would expect the starting goalies to be Henrik Lundqvist and Evgeni Nabokov.

Of note, Kyle Okposo is four points shy of 100 for his career. Rangers star Marian Gaborik has lit up the Isles for 28 points over their last 18 meetings. Lastly, defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky should arrive and begin skating with the Islanders, who should benefit from his presence when he's ready to join the action.

The game should give fans a fair accounting of where the Islanders stand going forward, and a look at how much (or not) they have really progressed.

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