How far will the Rangers get this season?

Against Islanders, Rangers Must Shoot The Puck

Marian Gaborik has fired 69 shots on goal this year, second in the NHL.  He has 11 goals and seven assists in 12 games against the Islanders since joining the Blueshirts.

Marian Gaborik has fired 69 shots on goal this year, second in the NHL. He has 11 goals and seven assists in 12 games against the Islanders since joining the Blueshirts.

When: Tuesday, November 15, 7:00 p.m.

Opponent: @ New York Islanders (4-7-3)



UPDATE: Evgeni Nabokov will be in net for the Islanders. (10:49 a.m.)


EARLIER: Here’s a friendly tip to the Blueshirts for tonight’s matchup with the rival New York Islanders: Shoot the puck.

No, that’s not a reference to the familiar cry from the Madison Square Garden crowd as the Rangers waste yet another power play opportunity, it’s simply sound advice.

The hated Islanders have allowed goals on the first shot of the game by opponents in four of their last six and on Sunday Evgeni Nabokov surrendered a goal on the first shot of the second period by Vancouver, too.

The team has lost nine of its last 10 games and may be on the verge of making significant personnel changes, starting with the insertion of 2010 first-round pick Nino Niederreiter, who had been playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on a conditioning assignment, into the lineup tomorrow night.

Perhaps a tilt with the rival Blueshirts is just what the Islanders need to snap out of their recent funk, but the Rangers aren’t likely to play down to the level of their opponent.

The surging Blueshirts have won six-straight games for the first time since October 2009 and have allowed just nine goals during their current win streak.

That’s not good news for the Islanders, who rank 29th in the NHL in goals per game and have scored more than two goals just twice during their current slump.

The Blueshirts have been propelled by top-notch goaltending all season, but the team has thrived lately thanks to the emergence of the G.A.S. line – Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan - which has combined for eight goals in 14 assists since being united six games ago.

That trio was dominant again on Friday against Carolina despite being held off the scoresheet, but meanwhile New York’s other forwards showed signs of busting out during a four-goal third period that capped the 5-1 victory.

Brandon Dubinsky finally tallied his first goal of the season in the team’s 15th contest and Sean Avery also got on the board for the first time this year.

Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan and Brad Richards also scored for Coach John Tortorella, who continues to search for effective line combinations beyond his dynamite top group.

Tortorella’s latest experiment is to place Richards in between two former teammates, Ruslan Fedotenko and Avery, while moving Brian Boyle to the middle between Dubinsky and Callahan.

At some point the Rangers must settle on lines, but they might be able to get along just fine on Tuesday with the G.A.S. line and Henrik Lundqvist.

The hapless Islanders have allowed 14 goals in their last three matches and whether it’s Nabokov, Al Montoya or Rick DiPietro in net the Blueshirts shouldn’t be phased, as long as they shoot the puck.

- Probable lines for Tuesday’s game:

Artem Anisimov/Derek Stepan/Marian Gaborik

Brandon Dubinsky/Brian Boyle/Ryan Callahan

Sean Avery/Brad Richards/Ruslan Fedotenko

Brandon Prust/Erik Christensen/Andre Deveaux

- Michael Del Zotto practiced on Monday after sitting out Saturday’s workout.

- Brandon Prust also skated and says he’s feeling much better.

- Anton Stralman isn’t expected to play on Tuesday as Tortorella wants him to spend more time learning the Rangers’ systems and conditioning.

- Mats Zuccarello’s patience is apparently running thin and the Norwegian would reportedly like to return to Europe if the Rangers don’t recall him within the next few weeks.  The NY Post’s Larry Brooks spoke with GM Glen Sather, who indicated the Rangers have no inclination to let Zuccarello out of his contract.  Zuc may not be recalled anytime soon, but the Blueshirts value him as insurance in case an offensive-minded forward is lost to injury. 


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Posted by Kevin Baumer | November 15, 2011 at 11:38 am

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