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Posted On Friday, 12.20.2013 / 2:16 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Islanders-Rangers rivalry renewed

NEW YORK -- The rivalry between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders has always been one of the NHL's most intense, and that doesn't figure to change Friday night at Madison Square Garden as each team is in dire need of points.

The Rangers have gotten off to a 1-3-2 start to their franchise-record nine-game homestand. The Islanders haven't won in regulation since Nov. 12 and find themselves in last place in the Metropolitan Division with 25 points in 35 games. Each team will look to turn things around against its heated rival in a preview of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game set for Jan. 29 at Yankee Stadium.

"It's always fun to play these games. They're always heated, they're always close," Islanders forward Matt Martin said. "There's no better place to get two points than in Madison Square Garden."

This is the second game this season between these regional rivals, who met Oct. 29 at Nassau Coliseum in a game the Rangers won 3-2. For players who are new to the history of these two teams, that game was an eye-opener.

"People have been talking about it [the rivalry] since I got here. I didn't really realize how serious it was until the first game at the Coliseum. It was pretty crazy. The intensity level was just ratcheted up that much more. It kind of had a playoff feel to it," said forward Cal Clutterback, acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Wild over the summer.

Posted On Friday, 12.20.2013 / 2:15 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rookies Miller, Strome play out rivalry at MSG

NEW YORK -- Rookie forwards J.T. Miller of the New York Rangers and Ryan Strome of the New York Islanders don't really know each other. It just seems like they do.

The pair were taken 10 picks apart in the 2011 NHL Draft, Strome fifth and Miller 15th, and have spent much of their lives facing off on every conceivable stage: the Ontario Hockey League, under-17 World Hockey Challenge, IIHF World Under-18 Championship, and World Junior Championship. They last met three weeks ago in an American Hockey League game between Strome's Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Miller's Hartford Wolf Pack. Strome scored twice in Bridgeport's 3-2 win.

Friday at Madison Square Garden the pair will face off for the first time in an NHL game.

"It will be a little different. This game is a little different from the other levels we've played at," said Miller, who was called up Thursday by the Rangers after a two-game stint with Hartford. "We just know each other because we've played against each other for so many years, going back to U.S.-Canada games so many times with the national team."

Posted On Wednesday, 12.18.2013 / 2:28 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Penguins' Malkin to miss two more games

NEW YORK -- Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin did not travel with the team for its game Wednesday against the New York Rangers (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2) and will miss the Penguins' home game Thursday against the Minnesota Wild (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) before being re-evaluated, according to Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. Bylsma said Malkin skated on his own Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

Malkin sustained a lower-body injury Saturday when he fell feet-first into the boards during the Penguins' game at the Detroit Red Wings. He sat out the game Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It's just the latest injury news for a team that also is missing its top four defensemen due to a variety of injuries. With Rob Scuderi (ankle), Paul Martin (undisclosed) and Brooks Orpik (concussion) already out, the Penguins put Kris Letang on injured reserve Monday with an upper-body injury. Pittsburgh filled his spot on the blue line by calling up Philip Samuelsson from the American Hockey League this week.

Bylsma said he's been pleased with the performance of this patched-up defense corps.

Posted On Sunday, 12.15.2013 / 6:01 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Goaltending has helped Flames exceed expectations

NEW YORK -- In what was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Calgary Flames, goaltending was the biggest issues during training camp. With longtime franchise goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff retiring after nine seasons in Calgary, there were plenty of question marks surrounding the Flames' crease.

But as the Flames have managed to defy expectations in 2013-14, a major key for them has been the contributions from goaltender Karri Ramo, who will make his third start in four days when the Flames take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.

"Our goaltending has been really solid," Flames associate coach Jacques Cloutier said. "Karri Ramo has been playing extremely well of late. He's a big reason we're able to win games."

Posted On Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 1:42 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rangers' Nash reflects on time with Blue Jackets

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Rick Nash appeared calm and reflective on the day of his first game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team he starred with for the first nine seasons of his NHL career.

Nash hinted there were certain things he may have done differently in his final days with the Blue Jackets before being traded to New York.

"I think it could have been a bit smoother of … I guess you can call it an exit. I thought everyone was honest, everyone was in the same boat. At the end of the day, when someone asks to move on for their career, you have to assume it's going to get messy," Nash said following New York's optional skate Thursday. "The only thing that kept me going was the fans stayed behind me. They understood my decision, my situation. I honor that with the fans, that they understood."

Posted On Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 1:26 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets' Dubinsky, Anisimov return to MSG

NEW YORK -- Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov played with the New York Rangers for five and three years, respectively, before being sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the blockbuster 2012 trade that brought Rick Nash to New York.

As they play their first game in New York since the trade, they're looking forward to facing their former team Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

"I'm excited to play tonight. It was nice to get an opportunity to go out to dinner with some friends from here. This is my first time back in the city since I got traded. It's nice, I'm really looking forward to it," Dubinsky said after Columbus' morning skate. "You've got to channel those emotions the right way. It's going to be a little different being on this side of the ice to start the game. I think after the first couple of shifts I'll settle in."

In 2012, Dubinsky, Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon and a 2013 first-round pick were traded to Columbus for Nash and Steve Delisle. More than a year after the trade, both players admitted their return to MSG stirred up emotions from their time in New York.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 2:29 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rangers look to call-up Asham for toughness

NEW YORK -- One day after being called up from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League, Arron Asham will be expected to do the things that have helped him carve out an NHL career for the past 14 years.

The veteran forward said he would be focusing on the physical play that has marked his career as he is inserted back into the New York Rangers lineup after spending the past two months in the AHL.

"I just have to come in here and spark a little life in the fourth line, try to get the boys going," Asham said. "Just play the way I have the last 14 years. Finish my checks, chip in offensively here and there and try to keep the puck out of my own net. It seems to have been working out so I'm going to try to work with that and not get too fancy."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 1:57 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rangers defenseman Staal out with concussion

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal sustained a concussion against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday and is out indefinitely, coach Alain Vigneault said Tuesday.

Staal's injury was originally diagnosed as a neck issue, although he was described as having concussion-like symptoms.

Now that the concussion is confirmed, the Rangers will keep Staal out of the lineup until his condition improves.

"Marc has been diagnosed with a concussion," Vigneault said. "He's being watched by our doctors. They don't feel it's as serious as what he might have had in the past. He's feeling better and we'll take it day by day."

Posted On Sunday, 12.08.2013 / 5:54 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rangers' Staal sidelined with sore neck

NEW YORK -- Defenseman Marc Staal will not play Sunday due to a sore neck as the New York Rangers host the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. Staal was forced to leave the Rangers' 3-2 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday after a hit from rookie forward Reid Boucher.

Rangers' coach Alain Vigneault revealed that the neck issues were causing Staal to have "some symptoms," but would not elaborate on whether or not Staal was dealing with the same concussion issues that forced him to miss 35 games in 2011-12. Staal also missed 27 regular season games last season following a scary eye injury caused by a deflected puck.

Posted On Monday, 12.02.2013 / 2:00 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jets' Kane (lower body) out; Albert makes NHL debut

NEW YORK -- Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane will not play Monday against the New York Rangers after sustaining a lower-body injury early in the second period of a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. In Kane's absence, John Albert, who was recalled Sunday from the Jets' American Hockey League affiliate in St. John's, will make his NHL debut.

"It's day-to-day. [Evander] won't be in the game tonight. So we'll just take it from there," Jets coach Claude Noel said, making clear what he expected from Albert in his first NHL game. "He just needs to be able to hold his own. He has to trust the way he plays. He's been good on faceoffs, he's been good on penalty kills. He's a guy who plays with speed. He just needs to earn the trust of the coaches and the staff."

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Well, for me this one's concerning, the way we performed. Because three games in, playing a desperate team on the road, I was expecting something else than this. Right now, I'm just disappointed. The other games, I thought we did some things that you can build off your game. There wasn't a lot accomplished in tonight's game.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards after a 4-2 loss to the Sabres on Monday dropped Columbus to 0-3-0
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