NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the New York Rangers host the New York Islanders at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.
The Rangers aren’t in any danger of missing the playoffs, but their recent mediocre stretch has nearly pushed them out of contention for one of the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division.
While they dropped a 3-2 OT decision to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday (they never held the lead), both the Penguins and Capitals won.
They’ll almost certainly finish in the top Wild Card spot, which means they’ll face the Atlantic Division winner in the opening round. In that respect, they’ll likely get a more favorable matchup, but every team wants to finish as high as possible.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist has missed the last six games because of a hip injury. Antti Raanta has had some good moments during Lundqvist’s absence, but the Rangers have gone just 2-3-1. They’ve also given up three goals or more in four of those six contests.
The Rangers have also been in a funk at home, as they’ve dropped six straight games at Madison Square Garden. Their last victory there came on Feb. 19 against Washington. They’re just 19-15-3 at MSG this season. Thankfully for them, they have the best road record in the NHL at 26-9-1.
“We’ve got to win a couple there and get the feeling of it in our building,” said defenseman Marc Staal, per the New York Post. “On the road, we find ways to win. We have to bring that mentality into our games at home. We got away from that at some point and we’ve got to get back to it.”
As for the Islanders, they did a good job surviving that nine-game road trip that ended Mar. 11, but they’ve hit a bit of a rough patch since then. In the four games they’ve played since the trip ended, the Isles have gone 1-2-1.
On a positive note, they should be pretty fresh coming into this game. The Islanders haven’t played since losing a 3-2 OT decision to the Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
With 11 games remaining, they find themselves three points behind Toronto for the last Wild Card spot in the East. Both teams have played the same number of games and have the same number of victories in regulation/overtime.
“It should be a good atmosphere, probably a good game for us to have, too — to get that emotion going that we’ll need to play with the rest of the way here,” forward Andrew Ladd said, per Newsday.
The Islanders will probably be doing a lot of scoreboard watching, as the Maple Leafs take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.