Battle of New York Preview: Islanders vs. Rangers, 2013 Episode 1

Pucks go here. - Bruce Bennett

News and lineup decisions before tonight's battle of New York.

These are the things we know from Jack Capuano's media scrum after the morning skate:

  • Matt Carkner has a lower body issue, but the defense is a "game time decision."
  • No one expects Lubomir Visnovsky to be that replacement -- Capuano said they'd know on him and Josh Bailey in the next couple of days -- but he did pass his physical and is now on the 23-man roster. Presumably Joe Finley plays.
  • Eric Boulton is in the lineup tonight because, because.
  • As of the morning, Capuano said Casey Cizikas "as of right now" was who would be scratched for Boulton, but they'd wait until tonight to determine the rest of the lineup. I suspect that means waiting to see whether Cizikas thinks to steal Boulton's alarm clock.
  • Evgeni Nabokov starts again in goal.

The Islanders posted more player quotes from the morning here.

Nyi-islim_medium Nyr-slim_medium
Islanders (4-4-1, 8th/E) @ Rangers (4-5-0, 11th/E)
[bleaaaaarrrrgggghh] Garden
7 p.m. | MSG, MSG+2 (twice the plus!) | NHL - WRHU
$7 Million Men:
Blueshirt Banter

On the other side, Ryan Callahan sounds like he's back in the lineup, Dan Girardi sounds like he's back out. Brian Boyle is a healthy scratch.

In public comments lately, coach John Tortorella has sounded:

  1. miffed with his players' performance,
  2. moved to restrain his ranting about said performance,
  3. ready to keep the $21 million line separated (loading Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik together isn't doing what you'd think it would do on NHL 13), and
  4. convinced his team isn't doing enough hard work below the circles, instead relying too much on the fast-break counterattack thanks to their collection of shiny summer toys.

At the morning skate, the Post and others report Nash was on a line with Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin.

Rangers fans, like Islanders fans, are horrified by how their powerplay has (not) produced in the last few games. But even including the last two games where the Isles went 0 for 14 with the man advantage, these teams have had special teams at opposite ends of the spectrum thus far. The Rangers powerplay is at 3 for 35 (8.6%) and their PK has killed only 32 of 41 (78%). The Isles are at 90.3 and 23.7 percent, respectively.

We know all of these numbers are bound to regress toward the mean at least somewhat. We just hope they don't begin that regression tonight.

With the Rangers still trying to find their groove and adjusting their lines, we can't predict how Jack Capuano will match lines, if at all. The best news for the Isles isn't so much that the Rangers are having identity issues up front, but rather that Girardi is out. Girardi is their top penalty killer at 4:21 of PK time per game.

It's always fun and unpredictable when these teams get together, and this time they're battling for the same spot in the standings. Does this game turn on special teams? Are the Rangers able to push the game "below the circles" and take advantage of the Islanders defense? Does Nabokov rebound from letting in some softies against Pittsburgh? Can the Isles contain both Nash and the Richards-Gaborik combo?

This is why we watch.

FIG Picks

If you missed the link in the morning thread, leave your First Islanders Goal picks here.

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