Ah yes, the New York hockey rivalry 2009-2010 edition begins today, and while the results this year probably won't be much different from the last, it's always fun to be a part of.
Gordon and Tortorella are assistant coaches for team USA, and while Gordon was gushing and blushing over Tortorella like a school girl with a crush, Torts refused to answer the same questions about Gordon. You have to love the game face Tortorella puts on for game nights, it's not part of your job to compliment how great a coach is when his team has a 1-4-5 record. No, Gordon doesn't really deserve compliments yet, he hasn't earned them, and he won't until the Islanders start winning.
Tonight would be a great night for the Islanders to get themselves in gear, maybe the first high energy atmosphere to come to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum will make them feel like they need to deliver a "big game" type performance. Lord only knows, the Islanders could use a big game performance every night out, but I digress. Unlike other teams who are fighting to stay where they are (i.e. the Phoenix Coyotes), the Islanders seem content with their same old losing ways and blaming the fact that the Lighthouse Project isn't being built yet.
I'm a supporter of the LHP, I grew up going to Islander games, and for as much as I cannot stand the way they've been playing, I do think they should get a new arena, if only so the Rangers can keep their pushover of a little brother. I do think if the Islanders had a tradition of winning past 1983, getting the Lighthouse approved would have probably been much easier.
Alas, I'm somewhat tired of reading about off ice politics when it comes to the Islanders as well, and if you're here, reading this, the political part probably isn't as important as the game of hockey that's going to be played at that old barn in Uniondale tonight. So moving forward...
The New York Rangers have been oh-so-hot lately, but they'll have to do it tonight without oft-injured Marion Gaborik tonight. This is not a very big test for the Rangers, since the Islanders have been luke warm at best, since the start of the season, posting the leagues SECOND worst record, only behind the Toronto Maple Leafs.
What the Islanders need to concentrate on, if they want to win, which I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt that they don't like losing, is simplify their game and just play smart defensively, especially in the third. What the Rangers need to do to win is, well, just continue playing the way they've been playing, and not really change a thing. That, and just hope the preseason predictions regarding the health of Gaborik don't come to fruition, or Ranger fans are in for another season of screaming "SHOOOOOOOOOOOOT!"
Other notes: Vinny Prospal has proven to be a key player in the Rangers offense this season, and that's one thing I can say has nothing to do with Gaborik and more to do with Prospal's presence of mind when on the ice and his nose for the net. Jeff Tambelllini is coming off his first multi-goal night as an Islander, scoring two in the Islanders third straight loss on Monday, if he can keep that going and Matt Moulson can play his game, Henrik Lundqvist can be facing more than a few scoring chances. John Tavares started the season on fire, but he's been simmering since, so the Islanders really need to get secondary scoring going, since the kid cannot be expected to carry the entire team.
Regardless of the winner, this should be a hard fought game and should be a fun one to watch, I'll probably post a game wrap up post later on tonight, you know, after the game.