Wednesday, 12.16.2009 / 7:00 PM
Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff WriterISLANDERS (12-14-7) at RANGERS (14-15-3)
Islanders 4-6-0; Rangers 3-5-2
This is the second of six meetings between the rivals. The Islanders picked up a 3-1 victory on Long Island on Oct. 28. Tonight's game is also the first half of a home-and-home series with the second game taking place Thursday.
Big story: Both teams find themselves in tailspins right now. The Islanders have lost four of five, while the Rangers have lo st seven of eight. Back-to-back games with each other could be what each team needs to get going.
Early-season optimism has turned into mid-season desperation and frustration as evidenced in the Islanders' 7-1 loss to the Panthers on home ice. The blowout was a cause for concern about the team's makeup and focus for defenseman Mark Streit
"I think at 7-1, it's tough to just turn the page," Streit said. "Every player needs to do some soul searching and go home and think about what happened. We have a pretty good team if everyone is on the same page. If we try to do it on our own, it's not going to work."
Goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who allowed 5 goals on 23 shots, thought the team might've got caught looking ahead to their rivals.
"To be honest we were a team that forgot we were playing tonight and we're looking forward to the Rangers games," Roloson said.
Unless your last name is Gaborik, the offense just hasn't been there all season for the Rangers. The team has scored two goals or less in 11 of their last 13 games, and superstar Marian Gaborik
has been the one keeping the offense afloat.
The team has played better in its last two games against Buffalo and Atlanta -- both losses -- and the return of Brandon Dubinsky
on Monday gave the Rangers hope that the funk could be over. But Henrik Lundqvist
believes continuing to get better is far more important than using a home-and-home with the Islanders to turn things around.
"I don't think it matters who we are playing right now," he said. "We have to see every game as an opportunity for us to turn this around."
Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo
has six points -- all assists -- in his last four games. For the Rangers -- cue the broken record -- Marian Gaborik
has been leading the way of late, with 2 goals and 2 assists in his last three games. If you're looking for someone else to get excited about, Ryan Callahan
has goals in two straight for the Rangers.
The Islanders will be without Sean Bergenheim, Doug Weight (upper-body), Radek Martinek (leg) and Tim Jackman (hip). Rick DiPietro
(knee) is still rehabbing.
With Dubinsky finally back from his broken hand, the Rangers can finally boast an injury-free team.
The Rangers have four goals in their past two games, all on the power play. Only Dubinsky, Vinny Prospal, Gaborik and Sean Avery
are plus players for the Rangers this season. Islanders forward Josh Bailey
has not had a shot on goal in 23 straight periods.
"We've got to keep doing the right things, keep playing like we're playing. 48 shots (vs. Atlanta on Monday) and I think we got 38 last game (vs. Buffalo on Saturday) - if we keep getting over 30 shots something's going to give here." -- Rangers captain Chris Drury, on the team trying to get going offensively.