The Rangers will take on the New York Islanders for the first time at the Islanders’ new home in Belmont Park (7:30 P.M. ET, MSG).

RangersNHL RankingsIslanders
7thNHL Standing Rank28th

Previous game

               The Blueshirts managed to pull out a 5-4 win at the buzzer. With the score 4-4 and the final seconds ticking off, the Buffalo Sabres were pinching the puck against the boards to get to three-on-three overtime. Chris Kreider battled hard and eventually came up with the puck and was able to feed Adam Fox. Fox quickly set up Mika Zibanejad near the hash marks. Zibanejad, who arguably has the best shot on the team passed up the opportunity for pinching defenseman Ryan Lindgren who was wide open and tapped the puck in on what was basically an open net. With just 0.4 seconds left in the game, the Blueshirts won it with no time left to spare.

               “You kind of realize with 5 seconds left, there’s probably not going to be enough time for them to bring it all the way down,” Lindgren said. “So, you just keep sneaking in.”

               Alex Georgiev started the game but was replaced by Igor Shesterkin in the third period. Georgiev gave up four goals on 18 shots in 40 minutes. Shesterkin only faced four shots in the third period and didn’t allow a goal. After the game, head coach Gerard Gallant said “just a coach’s decision.”

               Ryan Strome extended his point streak to six games and Kaapo Kakko extended his to four games.

“The key for him is just wanting the puck and holding on to it,” said Strome on Kakko. “Down low, when he’s got time and space, he can make a play like he’s world-class.”


               The Blueshirts are now set to meet the Islanders twice in five days with the first coming at Belmont Park on Wednesday. After being a healthy scratch on Sunday, Nils Lundkvist will likely draw back into the lineup for the Rangers.

               “He doesn’t have to play 82 games,” said Gallant. “If he’s playing really well, he’s going to play every game. If he’s playing okay, well, maybe we’ll switch guys in and out. But we like the kid. He’s doing a good job.”

               Dryden Hunt will get an opportunity on the Rangers’ top line to open the game. Gallant switched Hunt with Barclay Goodrow after feeling like the Blueshirts went flat during the game in Buffalo. After liking the response, Hunt has practiced with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad and will open the game with them. Goodrow will slot on the fourth line to start the game.

               Expect Igor Shesterkin to make the start for the Rangers. Shesterkin is the clear number one goaltender and he didn’t make the start in the previous game. He’ll look for his tenth win of the season.

New York Islanders

               The Islanders enter this game with a surprising record of 5-8-2. They opened the season with a 13-game road trip so their new arena can get finished. And honestly, they deserved a new arena. The Islanders have created a bunch of new fans in the Long Island area and have really reinvigorated their rivalry with the Rangers. Barclays Center was never built for hockey and the ice just wasn’t up to par with what was needed. The UBS Arena was designed for hockey and will be a great host for the Rangers-Islanders games for the future.

               And while this will be the first time these two teams meet at the new arena; the Islanders will be playing this game severely shorthanded. Ryan Pulock and Brock Nelson are both out of the lineup with lower-body injuries. And if missing two key players wasn’t bad enough, the Islanders dealing with what appears to be a COVID-19 outbreak. Currently on the Covid protocol list for the Islanders are Zdeno Chara, Adam Pelech, Andy Greene, Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, Kieffer Bellows, and Ross Johnston. Between injuries and players on the COVID list, the Islanders would be short four regular defensemen and five key forwards if none of their players could clear the COVID protocol.

               Despite being severely shorthanded, you can expect the Islanders to give it their all and not make it easy for the Rangers under any circumstance. With this type of rivalry game for the first time in their new building – the atmosphere will be electric and they will come to play. If the Rangers look at everyone they are missing and take them lightly – not only, will they lose the game but they will get embarrassed doing so.

               The Islanders still have plenty of good players who will be in the lineup and there is a reason they were one game away from the Stanley Cup Final last year. Matthew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier will be in the lineup and they are always a thorn in the Rangers side. The pair have combined for 15 points to start the season.

               In addition, the Islanders’ fantastic fourth line consisting of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck will continue to make their presence felt every time they are on the ice. The trio makes up what many consider to be the best fourth line in hockey and it’s no secret why. They hit hard at every opportunity they get, they are very responsible in the defensive zone, and they bring a ton of energy which gets other lines going.

What to Watch

               At the conclusion of last season, it was made clear the Rangers wanted to be harder to play against and be tougher as a team. One of the big reasons for this was during the Blueshirts push for the playoffs, the Rangers got embarrassed by the Islanders three times. They were outscored 13-1 in those games. They created very little on offense and didn’t have an answer for the Islanders outworking them. Now, the Rangers have a different look and they shouldn’t be out hit nor should they be outworked by the same levels we saw last season. With the additions of guys like Hunt, Goodrow, and Ryan Reaves, they should not get pushed around like they did last season. These two games in a five-day span will be telling if their offseason decisions are giving them what they desired.

Projected Lineup










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