New York Rangers vs. Islanders: It's Fish Stick Time
Andy Marlin, USATSI

The New York Rangers will open their season tonight against the New York Islanders, The battle for New York City has begun.

  • New York Rangers
  • New York Islanders
  • NHL, Today, 7:00 PM on MSG
  • Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

New York Rangers’ hockey is back.

The Blueshirts will waste no time adding a little melodrama to their 2016-17 script when they open their season against their heated rival, the New York Islanders.

Would you want it any other way?

Some fans will undoubtedly bring up the fact that the Islanders owned the Rangers last season, as they won all four regular season games.

Last year was last year.

The exciting part of the 2016-17 New York Rangers is that there are many, many unknowns. While that may sound precarious, it should be looked at as a big positive.

How will the new guys perform? Will Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich be able to live up to the reputations that precede them?

Will veteran players like Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash be able to match the level of production which the organization expects?

Will Henrik Lundqvist live the royal life yet again?

Will the defense, you know, play defense?

While we tackled a lot of these questions earlier in the week, there are some key points to keep in mind while watching your beloved Blueshirts tonight.

First off, it’s important to remember that the first quarter of the season is really an extension of the preseason. Yes, the games count, but there are lines and that need to be built, chemistry that needs to evolve, and players that need to prove themselves.

All of this takes time.

Having said that, fans are sure to approach tonight’s game like it’s Game 7 of a playoff series.

A season opener at the Garden, against the Fish Sticks.

Just in case you’re not pumped up enough, here’s another video from the great AJ Castiglia, who never fails to disappoint.

Here are the probable lines for tonight’s game:


The Rangers haven’t completley avoided the injury bug through training camp though, as defenseman Kevin Klein is likely out of tonight’s game with back spasms.

Hopefully this injury won’t be a nagging issue throughout the season because Klein’s solid defending will once again be an important asset, especially with so many uncertainties on the Rangers’ blue line.

What To Watch For

How will Vesey and Buchnevich adapt?

Most importantly, will both of these players be able to hold their own against the physicality of the NHL?

They have proved that they can play, that’s for sure. Vesey and Buchnevich have some serious hockey IQ and they can move the puck well, but that won’t translate if they can’t find open ice.

Head Coach Alain Vigneault will most likely keep the Chris Kreider/Mika Zibanejad/Buchnevich line together, and for good reason. This line looked to be in mid-season form when they played in their last preseason, but once again, it was only preseason.

As for Vesey, it will be interesting to see if he will be able to crash the net like he did in September and early October. It’s an asset that the Rangers need and have sorely missed last season.

Status of the World Cup players?

Mats Zuccarello and Hank played a lot of hockey in September.

Some may look at this as a positive because it allowed both of these players to kick the rust off prior to the regular season, but they may also be tired.

While Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, and J.T. Miller didn’t play the same number of games as Hank and Zucc, their World Cup appearances kept them away from the Rangers.

Will this affect their chemistry with their teammates? Keep a look out tonight.


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SJU



Chris Wengert
I've been a die hard Rangers and Giants fan for as long as I can remember. I enjoy sharing opinions, and hearing from fans that love their teams just as much as I do. Henrik Lundqvist makes all of us look like mere mortals. E-mail me at: Chris.Wengert@elitesportsny.com