Big game tonight folks. The biggest, in fact, since the last, and the biggest game until the next big game, which will probably be the next game they play, also.
The Rangers take the 2 train to Barclays Center as the Islanders play host. For the Rangers, this game isn't terribly important. They sit comfortably in the first wild card spot and it would probably behoove them to remain there - they currently have five more points than the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens. Since the Capitals appear to have the Conference pretty much locked up, they will get WC2 while WC1 will get to play in the Atlantic Division for the first two rounds. Probably a much easier route to the Eastern Conference Finals.
For the Islanders, however, every game is important from this point on. They sit three points out of the second wild card (Maple Leafs) and one point behind Philadelphia. The Leafs lost to the Blue Jackets and the Flyers lost to the Flames, all in regulation. They hold one game in hand on Toronto and two on Philly. The Panthers won in overtime to tie us in points and games played (identical records as well, for nerdy perfectionists such as myself). In other words, they need these points somethin' ornery. After their 7-1 implosion in Toronto the other night, one might imagine they're grinding their teeth waiting for tonight. Or at least we hope.
Note to Charlotte, North Carolina-area fans: Locals are planning a meetup to watch tonight's game in the Upper Deck at Courtyard Hooligans. See details in this Facebook event, and let 'em know we sent you.
- Arthur Staple agrees: it's always a big game between these two squads, but is especially more important for the Isles. [Newsday]
- It seems like eons ago since the last time these two teams danced, and that's probably because the Islanders rattled off a bunch of victories and brought themselves back to life during that span. [NY Post]
- The Point Blank Podcast discussed Tuesday's meltdown and John Tavares and the coverage surrounding his impending free agency. [SNY.tv]
- Anders Lee appeared on Boomer & Carton to talk hockey and his work to raise money for pediatric cancer care - the first "Anders Lee Kancer Jam" is on March 18, following the Isles game against Columbus. [CBS NY]
- Two more assists for Mathew Barzal as Seattle beat Red Deer 4-1. What a season for him.
- Michael Fornabaio is sick, but he updates you where he can. [Soundin' Off]
- This September, Professional Bull Riders returns to Nassau Coliseum for the first time since 2005. Hooray? [Newsday]
- Last night's NHL scores. Late night thriller in San Jose, with the Sharks scoring twice in the final three minutes of regulation to force overtime, only to lose in 3-on-3.
- Happy birthday to Jaromir Jagr, who recorded his 1,900th NHL point on the day he turns 45 (!!!!). I know many Islander fans hate him, and with good reason - the Isles were horrendous during his prime, so he tore us to shreds - but he is truly a treasure.
Point #1900 for Jaromir Jagr on his 45th birthday pic.twitter.com/R7ONMqVZg9— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) February 16, 2017
- Suspension news: Antoine Vermette receives the automatic ten-game ban for abuse of an official (as expected). [Anaheim Calling] | And Gustav Nyquist somehow only got six games on Stephane Quintal and the NHL Department of Player Safety's Wheel of Justice for spearing the face of Jared Spurgeon. [SBN | Winging it in Motown]
- As I subtly alluded to above, the NHL's playoff format is quite ungood, and Travis Yost shows you how. [TSN]
- Claude Julien only took the job with the Canadiens mid-season because it was the "ideal situation" for him. [Puck Daddy]
- This writer says not to hate on Cappy too much as a candidate in Vegas.
- Check out the patch the Red Wings will wear to honor Mike Illitch. [Winging it in Motown]
- If you only read one link this morning, make it this one: Corey Hirsch details his struggles with mental health as he rose to the NHL. Powerful and important read. [The Players' Tribune]
- And finally, Russia blew out Turkey 42-0 at the European Youth Olympic Festival, in what is one of the most impressive blowouts in all of sports. [SBN]