How far will the Rangers get this season?

Rival Isles Visit Broadway

Marian Gaborik has scored 19 goals this year after posting just 22 a year ago

Marian Gaborik has scored 19 goals this year after posting just 22 a year ago

When: Thursday, December 22, 7:00 p.m.

Opponent: vs. Islanders (11-14-6)



UPDATE: Erixon is indeed in for Woywitka.  (5:54 p.m.)

UPDATE: Marty Biron will start in net for New York tonight.  It also sounds like Jeff Woywitka won't be able to play, so Tim Erixon will likely skate for the second game in a row.  (11:02 a.m.)


EARLIER: Barring something unforeseen, the Rangers will dress the same six defenders on Thursday against the rival New York Islanders.

Stu Bickel is slated to make his second career start and Tim Erixon is a good bet to play in his 11th game of the season despite possessing a “minor lower-body injury” himself as Jeff Woywitka will again be a game-time decision.

The Blueshirts’ shorthanded defense managed to contain a New Jersey offense that had scored 26 goals in its previous seven games en route to a 4-1 victory on Tuesday night.  Thursday’s tilt against the 29th-ranked Islanders’ attack should represent something of an easier task for the undermanned defense.

The Isles have several players from their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, in the lineup right now and have struggled to do just about anything right this season.

Their three-headed monster in goal had become less of a storyline as Al Montoya had secured the starting job, but Montoya left Tuesday’s game with a concussion.  He joins David Ullstrom, Steve Staios and Brian Rolston on the shelf with head injuries.

Evgeni Nabokov guided the Islanders to their second straight win in relief and he’ll likely get the start on Thursday.  But Nabokov has dealt with injury woes of his own and hadn’t won a game since October 15th against the Blueshirts before Tuesday’s victory over Winnipeg. 

The banged up defense is the primary issue facing the Rangers right now, but the team has managed to win its last two games despite its defensemen dropping like flies.

Two losses in a row last week threatened to derail much of New York’s early season success, but the Rangers stopped their slide in its tracks when Brad Richards netted a miraculous game-winning goal against Phoenix with .1 seconds left on Saturday.

The Blueshirts were outplayed by the Devils in their last game, but a terrific game by Henrik Lundqvist and two goals from Marian Gaborik were enough to help New York earn another victory.

Thursday’s match represents the second of four consecutive rivalry games.  A preliminary date with the Winter Classic opponent Flyers awaits on Friday and then the Blueshirts will host the Islanders again on Monday.

Perhaps that’s a good thing for the team presently.  New York has no trouble getting up for games against its metro-area opponents and considering the shabby state of the blueline, it’s good that coach John Tortorella can count on maximum effort from the rest of his soldiers.

The Islanders are buried at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings yet again, but they usually bring their “A” game against the Blueshirts.

So weakened defense or not, this is sure to be a physical affair.  The Islanders are a team the Rangers are expected to beat at this point, but much will depend on the defense and whether the replacements can match their admiral performance of Tuesday night.


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Posted by Kevin Baumer | December 22, 2011 at 11:25 am

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New York Rangers VS Chicago Blackhawks
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 3 0 0 - 3
Blackhawks 1 1 0 - 2

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