The New York Islanders will collide with the New York Rangers as the East Division foes open the regular season on Thursday night from Madison Square Garden. The Islanders had a strong 2019-2020 season, registering 80 points. They lost to the Lightning in the third round of the playoffs.
The Rangers posted 79 points last season and fell to the Hurricanes in the qualifying round. The Rangers went 3-1 against the Islanders last season.
Islanders Return Core, Extend Barzal
The New York Islanders enter the new season with lofty expectations. The Islanders eliminated the Capitals and Flyers in the first and second round of the playoffs before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Lightning. New York doesn’t have a ton of star power, however, they play hard and are solid defensively.
The Islanders avoided a contract holdout by signing Mathew Barzal to a three-year contract extension last week. Barzal has carried this team offensively, leading the team in points in all three seasons. The 23-year old center posted a solid 60 points in 68 regular-season games last season and collected four points in four clashes against the division-rival Rangers.
The Islanders return most of last season’s core. Brock Nelson will be aiming for another big season after earning a career-high 54 points in 2019-2020. Captain Anders Lee scored 20 goals last season and Josh Bailey is another key forward.
Put in work today 🏒💪 pic.twitter.com/pcsgQbvI7I— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 10, 2021
The Islanders no longer have Thomas Greiss between the pipes. They added Ilya Sorokin from Russia’s KHL who is expected to split the duties with veteran Semyon Varlamov. The 32-year old netminder finished last season with a decent 2.62 GAA and a .914 save percentage to go with a 10-14-6 record. Varlamov will start this game. New York scored an average of 2.8 goals last year, placing them 22nd in the league. They limited opponents to 2.8 goals, landing them 9th in the NHL.
Rangers Poised for Big Season
The New York Rangers head into this season with plenty of optimism after they did not qualify for the playoffs in 2019-2020, falling to the Hurricanes in the qualifying round in the bubble. That defeat led to the Rangers winning the draft lottery and drafting Alexis LaFreniere out of Quebec with the first overall pick The 19-year old winger has a ton of speed and is expected to contribute immediately.
The Rangers are led by the thrilling Artemi Panarin. The 29-year old star had a tremendous season in his first year on Broadway, collecting 95 points including 32 goals. Panarin recorded eight points in three games against the Islanders last year. Ryan Strome is one of the more underrated players in the league and is coming off a career-best 59 points. New York has a solid defenseman in Anthony DeAngelo who tallied 53 points last year.
Hello, Alexis. 😍 pic.twitter.com/fWIRjSkv1b— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 11, 2021
Longtime Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist has departed the franchise. The good news is Igor Shesterkin is ready for the spotlight in goal. The 25-year old goalie was outstanding in his first taste of the NHL last year, recording a 2.52 GAA and .932 save percentage accompanied by a 10-2 record. Alexander Georgiev will also start plenty of games in the crease. The Rangers averaged 3.3 goals per game last season, ranking them fifth in the NHL. They allowed an average of 3.1 goals, placing them down at 23rd overall.
The New York Islanders are:
- the road team is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings.
- 12-4 in their last 16 games at MSG.
The New York Rangers are:
- 1-4 in their last 5 home games.
- 0-4 in their last 4 games overall.
- 0-4 in their last 4 divisional games.