The last Islander-Ranger game at Nassau Coliseum was a hot, if not bittersweet, topic at today’s morning availability.
“It’s tremendous, there’s really nothing like it in our league,” John Tavares said. “Maybe even in sport. It’s a lot of fun to play in. These games, you don’t want them to end.”
The Islanders-Rangers rivalry will outlive the Coliseum, but the memories created here will remain eternal. Heading into tonight the Coliseum has hosted 125 regular season matchups with the Islanders holding a 65-52-8 advantage. It’s possible that these teams meet in the playoffs, but the teams’ players and fans will have to savor tonight, in case it's their last chance.
“It’s hard to believe, but it’s here,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said of the final game.
Capuano compared the Islanders-Rangers rivalry to Toronto-Montreal and Montreal-Boston, two of the most historic feuds in the NHL.
Islanders-Rangers games are always intense regardless of venue or standing, but the intensity is always ramped up in the compact Coliseum. That’s because of the unique derby-style atmosphere in the crowd. On most nights, it feels like a 50/50 split and both fanbases bring out the best in each other.
“It’s a Ranger chant and then an Islander chant, it’s all good,” Capuano said. “It’s what makes this sport the best sport there is.”
Capuano was asked if he takes the time to appreciate the dueling chants on the bench. He said there was no way to avoid it. Despite his stoic focus, he has ears. He can hear.
Matt Martin was asked for a comparable situation, but couldn’t pick one.
“I have no idea,” he said. “This is the craziest atmosphere I’ve ever played in. The Pittsburgh series was insane, but these games against the Rangers this season even top that. I can only imagine how loud it’ll be tonight, or how loud a playoff series would be.”
The Islanders and Rangers have played 19 playoff games at the Coliseum, with the Islanders winning 10 of them. The Islanders stated their desire to play a few more.
After all, Tavares is right, no one wants these games to end.