The New York Rangers continue their homestand Thursday night as the visiting New York Islanders pay a visit to Madison Square Garden. The Islanders have won 14 of the past 24 meetings between the teams since 2012. The Isles face the Rangers for the first time this year after taking three wins out of four chances from their crosstown rival last year. Both teams have stumbled out of the gate, which is concerning for both sides.
The two New York-based hockey teams will meet Thursday trying to find their way. The Rangers, who for the most part of this season, have been abysmal in all facets of the game. The Islanders return to the east coast after a three-game road trip through California in which they lost two of the three contests they played. This game comes at the perfect time for both teams. Rivalry games always get the juices flowing more than any other game. The game will get everyone amped from the coaches to the players to the fans.
Big games, big players…
Big games call for big players on both teams to step up. I will give two players, one from each side who I believe will step up for their respective clubs. This may be an obvious choice, but for the Islanders, it will be John Tavares. The captain and the backbone of the team love these games, and more often than not he comes to play in them. I expect him to not only put goals and assists on the board but play a solid game defensively as well. Although still early, the Isles need to find their way. With the Metropolitan division being the best division in hockey, We saw last year how the Isles struggled out of the gate and eventually missed the playoffs. Look for Johnny T to lead the charge for the visiting team. I will go a little out of the box with the Rangers and choose J.T. Miller. Miller, who scored his first goal of the season against Pittsburgh Tuesday, has been under scrutiny for another slow start in terms of an offensive standpoint. He is looked upon to put in 20 goals and 40 points a year. He needs to start generating chances and offensive zone time, and I think he will tonight.. Look for him as a player you will notice in a blue sweater.
Live In The Stands; NYR vs NYI prediction
Prediction time, both teams have struggled to this point and as previously mentioned a huge game for both sides. The Rangers showed a few glimpses of hope Tuesday. I would be completely shocked if Alain Vigneault is not on the hot seat, and I think the Rangers will come out on home ice firing. Look for the Rangers to play a complete solid 60-minute game. Although it has not happened yet, tonight it will. I have the Rangers taking this one tonight by a score of 4-1.