The thing that makes me wonder ever so cautiously optimistic about this Islander season is not that they're 2-0…it's that they became 2-0 in a way that was somewhat expected.
Tavares has a bunch of points, Brock Nelson is single-handedly providing the ever needed "secondary scoring", goalies each played a game, and the new D are having huge impact. Sure, the competition in the first 2 games was not exactly stellar, but I think a team is on to something when they win they were designed to.
So now the celebration of a successful weekend ends and we jump into the season face first as the Islanders take on the NY Rangers. I've written many posts about how this is the best and truest rivalry in sports due to team proximity from a location and division standpoint. At it's peak that statement could not be argued - but with too much neglect even the best rivalry can die out. I'm not saying this one is dead, but it's basically on life support due to teams moving in 2 different directions. The hatred will always be there amongst the fans, but for it to exist amongst the players, they need to be hurting each other on the ice and in the standings. This year, and especially tonight, we may just see this happen. Now onto the preview:
Lines will remain exactly the same, which is a good thing. Any notion of taking out the gritty 4th liners would not be wise in this game. Look for Matt Martin, Colin McDonald, and Casey Czizikas to play out of their minds tonight. If they don't, this won't be a contest. They have to win the physical game in order to have the mental energy to generate offense. Halak will need to have some sloppy saves.
Somehow this team made it all the way to the finals last year. While they weren't that good, they do have a professional team that can win any game. It starts with the best goalternder, King Henrik Lundqvist. The guy has the ability to stop every single shot. I have no idea how he does that, but I've never seen a goalie have such an impact on a game. The whole league should be scared of Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash playing together, and playing well. People forget that Nash is a superstar in the regular season (even if he is Oleg Kvasha level in the playoffs). But are we finally seeing the decline in Dan Girardi? Let's see if that gets exploited tonight, and let's see if there still is a pulse in what was the best rivalry in sports.
Enjoy the game everyone.