The New York Islanders postseason hopes hinge on Thursday’s contest with the Rangers. Jason Chimera expresses his hate for the opponent.
BROOKLYN, NY–It all comes down to this.
The Islanders’ stunning turnaround—catapulting from last place to within striking distance of the final wild card spot—won’t mean very much without a win against the Rangers on Thursday night.
There’s always a lot at stake when these crosstown rivals face off under the bright lights of the Big Apple. But tonight’s contest has added meaning for the sixth-place Isles: following a 7-1 loss to the Maple Leafs, they’ll need to beat the Blueshirts to keep up with the pack.
As things currently stand, the Isles are three points out of a playoff spot. They’re still one of the hottest teams in the league—8-3-1 since Doug Weight took the reigns of the team a couple of weeks ago. But the Isles knew that to make the postseason, they’d need to win most of their remaining games.
These are the games they have to win.
“We don’t have time to dwell on any games, win or lose,” captain John Tavares said, via Arthur Staple of Newsday. “There’s too many games to play right now. We just have capitalize on our chances and keep trying to get the points we need.”
The Rangers, winners of six straight and owners of the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, defeated the Isles on opening night, but lost to them in late December, when neither team seemingly had much to play for.
Jason Chimera, who netted his team’s only goal against Toronto, was brought in this offseason to replace Matt Martin. He’s had a fair share of run-ins with the Blueshirts during his time in Washington, though.
“I’ve only been here six months and I hate ’em,” Chimera said. “It’s not just the team, it’s the people that cheer for them. You hear your neighbors talking about the Rangers and you want to beat them even more.”
That makes this contest even more important. As former Rangers and Islanders goalie Kevin Weekes once said (paraphrasing), ‘New Yorkers want only one thing: to beat their crosstown rivals.’
The Isles need to beat their crosstown rivals to have a shot at the postseason.