By Jack Allen
Hockey is alive in New York. It has been quite a long time since the Islanders visited Madison Square Garden (MSG) and ticket prices were this high. Ever since 1993, the Islanders haven’t been this relevant and have not won a playoff series. The Rangers have won a Stanley Cup and have been there twice (1994 & 2014). The Rangers have stayed relevant to this day. The Islanders on the other hand, hasn’t been this good in over 20 years. The NYI/NYR rivalry is back. The 1st place Islanders visit MSG tonight with a chip on their shoulder to prove they’re the best team in NY. I can’t remember personally in my life ever hearing more hype for an Islander game in the regular season at this point. Halak vs Lundqvist and Nash vs Tavares, will be fun to watch. Tune in tonight at 7:00 EST. Finally my prediction: 3-2 Islanders in OT.
Jack Allen is a writer for dabuzzza.com. He is a fan of the New York Mets, New York Islanders, New York Knicks, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, Queens Park Rangers, and West Virginia Mountaineer football and basketball. His favorite athletes are David Wright, John Tavares, Geno Smith, Allen Iverson and Charlie Austin. He is a very passionate and determined fan. You can follow him on twitter @JackAllen99.
By Brett Malamud
The puck drops in Los Angeles tonight as the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings will battle it out for all the marbles. It should be a great series, as both teams deserve to be there. After missing out on the finals berth last year, the Kings return to hockey’s biggest stage for the second time in three years. At the same time, the Rangers return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994.
An interesting matchup to say the least, the series will feature two of the top goalies in the league going head to head. Henrik Lundqvist has stood on his head, making some pretty acrobatic stops these playoffs. If it weren’t for him, the Rangers would probably not be playing in this series. With a 2.03 goals against average, he has carried them the distance and hopes to continue that over the coming games. On the other side of the rink is Jonathan Quick, who will look to capture his second Stanley Cup. He’s had quite the experience in net, and that should help as he has been playing well this playoffs.
Defense should be a huge part of this series. The Kings can score in a blink of an eye, and the Rangers…well let’s just say they can thank the opponent’s lack of defense for a handful of their goals during the playoffs. The Rangers shot blocking may be the storyline going into this one. Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh have led the charge on that front. The Rangers did a good job holding down PK Subban, but it’ll be interesting to see how they do with the quicker Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty.
Well not a lot of debate here. The Kings average 3.48 goals per game. The Rangers average 2.70. The Kings scored 28 goals in their seven-game Western Conference Finals series. The Rangers scored 19 goals in their six-game Eastern Conference Finals series. It’ll be interesting to see Marian Gaborik this series. The former Rangers forward leads all playoffs scorers with 12 goals. Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams will all play a major role as well. For the Rangers, the newly acquired Martin St. Louis leads the way, as well as Rick Nash, who hasn’t done much this postseason
At the end of the day, the Kings are the better team. Don’t think that the Rangers will go down easy though.
Prediction: Kings in 6
By Ryan Crawford
New York Islanders
Stick a fork in them because the Islanders are done. 12 points out with six teams to jump and 22 to play makes it virtually impossible to make a serious run. Throw in the injuries to Tavares and Nielsen and yesterday’s call ups of Strome, Lee and Halmo and it’s wait until next year for the talented but young and beat up Islanders. The top players available include:
Thomas Vanek- the best player on the market, Vanek can be had for a high-end prospect a mid level prospect and a first round pick. Can Garth Snow get that high a return is the question.
Andrew MacDonald- word on the street is a first round pick gets the top d-man on the trade market
Evgeni Nabokov- not mentioned often but with the team out and UFA pending, he could be cheap goalie insurance for somebody. Minnesota? St. Louis?
New York Rangers
The Rangers are in a tough spot. They are a playoff team with key players approaching UFA status.
Ryan Callahan- The team captain is looking for about 47 million over 7 years and the team is offering 30 over 5. Interested teams are rumored to include St. Louis (Anthony Stewart?), Tampa Bay (Martin St. Louis?), Buffalo for a long-term deal, Columbus and Toronto.
Dan Girardi- Also looking for more than the Rangers want to pay, he would be a prime chip if the Rangers make him available. Expect Boston, Toronto, Philly, Anaheim and Phoenix to be in the mix.
The team with the worst record in the league will make just about every veteran available. Three in particular are hot.
Ryan Miller- The top goalie on the market, the Sabres are looking to create a bidding war for his services. St. Louis heads the list of potential destinations but don’t count out Minnesota, Anaheim, San Jose or even Colorado.
Steve Ott- a gritty guy who could fit in with any of the top contenders. Boston, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Chicago and Tampa Bay head the list.
Matt Moulson- acquired early this season for Vanek, Moulson will be flipped at the deadline for more young assets. With scoring at a premium, expect Los Angeles, Ottawa, Montreal and possibly Detroit to be in play.
Mike Cammalleri– smaller scoring winger could be looked at by Pittsburgh, New Jersey or Los Angeles to provide some jump.
Shea Weber- probably won’t be moved at the deadline but could be a blockbuster if the right team comes calling with enough goodies. Philly and Edmonton are always mentioned but teams like Buffalo, Florida, Dallas and the New York Islanders have plenty to offer and more than enough cap space.
By Mike Basile
1) Chicago Blackhawks (20-4-4, 44 points) Currently on a six game win streak, this team continues to get hotter and hotter and are a sure pick for number one on the power rankings.
2) San Jose Sharks (18-3-5, 41 points) Also on a nice win streak, the Sharks have won five in a row. With only three regulation losses, they are a very dangerous team.
3) St Louis Blues (18-5-3, 39 points) With one of the top goal scores in the league (Alexander Steen) and a great goaltending duo, this team rounds out the top three.
4) Colorado Avalanche (19-6-0, 38 points) Still a surprise team to many but with great young talent, this team’s hot start does not come as a surprise to me.
5) Boston Bruins (18-7-2, 38 points) They are the most consistent team in the league in my opinion. They come to play every night and with great goaltending, are usually in the win column.
6) Anaheim Ducks (18-7-4, 40 points) After a hot start, Anaheim hit a little cold spell, but I am not worried that they will be stuck in it long.
7) Los Angeles Kings (17-7-4, 38 points) They are still playing good hockey even with their all-star goalie out until Christmas. Dustin Brown has shown true leadership with this team.
8) Pittsburgh Penguins (18-9-1, 37 points) Usually you would expect to see this team around the top three, but with some inconsistency this season they have dropped to number eight.
9) Phoenix Coyotes (15-7-4, 34 points) This team fights hard for wins and is backed by some very solid goaltending.
10) Tampa Bay Lightning (16-9-1, 33 points) In my opinion one of the most impressive teams this year. Without Stamkos and still way over .500 is a nice surprise and so they finish the top ten.
11) Detroit Red Wings (14-7-7, 35 points) They’re on a four game win streak right now and beat the Islanders for the first time since 2003 this week. With play like this, they can shoot up the rankings quickly.
12) Vancouver Canucks (14-10-5, 33 points) It’s been an up and down season so far for the Canucks. If they do not find consistency, they will not find any success.
13) Minnesota Wild (16-8-5, 37 points) With a rough end to the month a top ten team in points will be found out of my top ten.
14) Montreal Canadiens (16-9-3, 35 points) 7-1-2 in their last 10 and quickly rising in the standings. They can crack the top ten soon if they continue to perform at this rate.
15) Washington Capitals (14-11-2, 30 points) With a big comeback win against the division rival Islanders this weekend, the Capitals won two straight and improve to .500 on the road.
16) Dallas Stars (12-9-4, 28 points) A team that I thought would be a playoff threat with great goaltending has been disappointing thus far.
17) Nashville Predators (13-11-3, 29 points) A -13 goals against is not beneficial for any team, but especially not a team that prides itself on defense.
18) Toronto Maple Leafs (14-10-3, 31 points) Toronto is considerably low on my rankings because I expected a lot from this team and quite frankly am disappointed in their overall play.
19) Philadelphia Flyers (12-12-2, 26 points) The team still has some pieces to connect, but Steve Mason is the biggest piece and he is in place.
20) New York Rangers (14-14-0, 28 points) A team that can usually have Lundqvist as a backbone did not start him for the second straight game last night in favor of Cam Talbot, who has been good in net. If Henrik gets going, they could have a scary two-headed monster.
21) Winnipeg Jets (13-12-4, 30 points) I usually do not like to call out one player, but the Jets expected big things from Ondrej Pavelec and have got pretty much nothing from him.
22) New Jersey Devils (11-12-5, 27 points) Win one lose one is not a good attitude to have in the NHL and it seems like the Devils have been playing like that all year so far.
23) Ottawa Senators (10-13-4, 24 points) It seems like their offense and defense can never click on the same night and that has resulted in a poor start for the Sens.
24) Columbus Blue Jackets (10-14-3, 23 points) A team that just missed the playoffs last season that had high expectations has struggled to say the least to begin this season.
25) Carolina Hurricanes (10-12-5, 25 points) Carolina has too many questions and no answers on the blue line. 57 goals for also does not help a struggling team.
26) Edmonton Oilers (9-17-2, 20 points) The best of the worst! They begin my bottom five in the league and this young team will NOT win games with poor defense and weak goaltending.
27) Calgary Flames- (9-13-4, 22 points) As expected, Calgary is in the bottom tier of the league. 3-5-2 in their last ten is not making matters any better.
28) New York Islanders (8-15-4, 20 points) After a good start to the season, everything went downhill after an injury to Lubomir Visnovsky. The team has lost six straight now and is treading water to stay alive.
29) Florida Panthers (7-15-5, 19 points) A team that is still in rebuild mode has Tim Thomas leading the way but is trying to pave the way for goaltender Jacob Markstrom. If there is a bright spot for this team, Aleksander Barkov looks great!
30) Buffalo Sabres (6-20-2, 14 points) Not much has to be said when your goal differential is -37. Actually there is one thing, DRAFT PARTY!
Mike Basile is a sophomore at York College Of Pennsylvania. He is a huge sports fan, and when it comes to hockey maybe considered a little obsessive. Giving insight on the Islanders and all things hockey. You can follow him on twitter at @mikeybasile1