Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL’s fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight the New York Islanders will face the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.
The Islanders can’t pretend this is like any other game. This will be their first and perhaps only opportunity to ever play in Yankee Stadium. It will naturally be outdoors, which presents it’s own appeal and challenges for the players. And if it wasn’t all of those things, it would still be a match against the rival Rangers.
But more than anything, this is an opportunity for them to get two points they desperately need.
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“When we get out there (tonight), it’ll be all business,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano promised, according to Newsday.
The Islanders’ incredible 10-3-0 run has been stunted by their recent three-game losing streak. They already dug themselves in a deep hole early in the 2013-14 campaign and are consequently last in the Metropolitan Division. If they can’t break out of their recent funk soon, then Islanders GM Garth Snow might have to operate as a seller before the trade deadline and move guys like Thomas Vanek.
In the meantime, they can count on Vanek, Kyle Okposo, and John Tavares to give the Rangers problems, but it’s the Islanders’ goaltending and defense that’s been the sticking point this season. They have allowed at least three goals in six straight contests and have surrendered an average of 3.29 goals per game.
Things are far less grim for the Rangers. They’ve endured some rough patches throughout the season, but they’re 7-3-0 in their last 10 contests and hold second place in the Metropolitan Division. That being said, only four points separate second and seventh place in the division, so the Rangers can’t afford to ease their foot off the gas.
Beyond that, they will also be in a completely unique position tonight. The Rangers are about to become the first team in the history of the NHL to play in back-to-back outdoor regular season games.
They earned a 7-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Yankee Stadium on Sunday and that experience might serve them well tonight.
“I don’t think you ever really get used to playing outside, the surroundings, the elements, the ice surface, but kind of knowing what to expect will help,” Rangers captain Ryan Callahan told the Bergen Record. “That excitement is still there. The crowd the atmosphere, it’s pretty easy to get up for these games.”
It should be a fun contest for all involved, but it’s also an important game and a battle over critical points.