The New York Islanders and New York Rangers resume their derby rivalry with the first of three games in just over a week, starting Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Islanders are on a pretty clear playoff trajectory, while the rebuilding Rangers have been flirting with just enough playoff bubble hopes (seven points behind the second wild card) to make this feel like not quote a completely soul-less rebuild season.
- Casey Cizikas, who took a deflected shot right there on Saturday vs. the Bruins, missed the morning skate and was ruled a gametime decision. I bet that means he plays.
- Semyon Varlamov looks to continue his run of starts. The Islanders play again tomorrow night at home to the Red Wings, so Thomas Greiss likely takes a turn then.
- Somehow, this is Jordan Eberle’s 700th NHL regular season game. Time flies. He is four points shy of 500 for his NHL (regular season) career.
- The man he was traded for, Ryan Strome, is enjoying a career season with 41 points in 44 games, good for second on their team. Having team scoring leader and offseason free agency prize Artemi Panarin by his side helps.
The Rangers are coming off a thorough thumping by the Blues in St. Louis, where Henrik Lundqvist was in net. They are carrying three goalies including rookie Igor Shesterkin, who is 24 years old like the Isles’ fellow Russian prospect Ilya Sorokin. But he’ll be scratched tonight. The start will go to Alexandar Georgiev, who had a shutout against the Islanders 14 months ago.
The schedule for this rivalry hasn’t just been weird...it’s been really weird: It’s their first meeting of the season and in fact their first in over a calendar year, 366 days.
Time to renew acquaintances!