There is nothing better than a rivalry, especially when that rivalry takes center stage on opening night.
The New York Rangers and the New York Islanders. It is a rivalry like no other. It used to be a 27.3-mile hike from the Nassau Coliseum to the Garden. Now, all but five miles separate these two teams from each other.
In particular, when thinking about other sports rivalries in New York, it’s hard to compare any to the Rangers and Islanders. Yes, you have the Mets vs. Yankees. As well as, the Jets vs. Giants, but they aren’t in the same division. Whenever the New York Rangers and Islanders matchup, not only is the pride on the line, but there are division and conference points there for the taking.
However, last season the Rangers struggled against their crosstown rivals. The Islanders were able to sweep the season series for the first time in the history of the franchise.
On the other hand, Rangers lead the lifetime series (124-107-19-8), but there is no doubt about it, the Islanders are looking to close in.
As for this season, the fans of the two teams don’t have to wait long for the rivalry to kick off in the 2016-17 season, as the Rangers home opener will be against the Islanders on Thursday, October 13, 2016. For the Rangers, they have revenge on their minds.
It’s no secret, the team the Islanders have on paper is a team of the future, while many people believe the team the Rangers have on paper is a team of hope.
More importantly, fans saw the Rangers went through a makeover this offseason. Starting with the trade of Derek Brassard to Ottawa for Mika Zibanejad. Speaking of that trade, the Rangers got a little younger in the center spot, cut some salary, and hopefully got a player entering his prime.
Sep 27, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Nicklas Jensen (39) and New York Islanders defenseman calvin de Haan (44) come together during the first period during a preseason hockey game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Along with the trade, the Rangers picked up Michael Grabner via free agency adding some speed, along with signing one of the top college prospects in Jimmy Vesey, who adds speed and youth. With regards to this, there are a lot of concerns with Vesey being able to live up to the hype. Blueshirt fans can only hope he will.
The Islanders, on the other hand, didn’t change much, yet they added the playoff veteran and Ranger killer Jason Chimera to the team. Chimera has played 31 games vs. the Rangers and had seven goals, two assists, and nine points.
In other words, it is early in the season–after all, it will be just the first game–but the Islanders have the opportunity to be a top team in the Metropolitan Division. As for the Rangers, the big question is how will the team look this season.
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Nonetheless, the game against the Islanders could show the fans how the season will be. Can they bounce back from what was one of the worst displays of defense the team has showcased in years? With the additions of Adam Clendening and Nick Holden, the organization showed they realized some of those concerns.
In contrast, one thing Rangers fans are concerned about is how Dan Girardi and Marc Staal will respond from last year. Considering this, we are hoping for positive results from them and the Rangers this season. More importantly, starting with the big game on Thursday night.