Last season's bad feelings between Chris Simon and Ryan Hollweg carried over into the preseason. While Simon will not be playing for the New York Islanders on Wednesday against Hollweg's New York Rangers, it will be interesting to see if the hostilities remain.
On March 8, Simon viciously swung his stick and connected on Hollweg, prompting a 25-game suspension from the league that included the final 15 games of 2006-07 and the Islanders' five-game first-round playoff loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Islanders' enforcer will be serving his 24th game of that ban with this contest, but he and Hollweg did get into a fight in a preseason game Sept. 24.
While the game ended in a 5-4 Islanders victory, the result was an afterthought following the altercation between Simon and Hollweg, as well as one between Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro and Rangers counterpart Al Montoya that saw both ejected.
"We got matched up a couple of times, and it's two hard guys going at it," Hollweg said. "The league had taken care of what had happened and it's behind me. I'm just playing my game."
The Islanders (2-1-0) are trying to bounce back from their first loss of the season, a 2-1 defeat to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. Richard Park scored the lone goal for Ted Nolan's team, which outshot Washington 31-12, but failed to help itself by misfiring on four second-period power plays, including a 5-on-3 for 1:34.
"We played as hard as we could," defenseman Andy Sutton said. "There are some games you should lose and you win, and there are some games you should win and you lose. This was one of the latter."
The Isles also bolstered their blue line Tuesday, signing veteran defenseman Bryan Berard to a one-year, $725,000 contract. Berard had been practicing with the team at his own expense before a roster spot opened after the Phoenix Coyotes claimed Freddy Meyer off waivers.
"I came to camp determined to prove to the Islanders I belonged in the NHL and I'm very appreciative of (general manager) Garth Snow and (coach) Ted Nolan for giving me the chance," the No. 1 overall pick from 1995 said in a statement. "The guys have already shown this season what kind of character this team has and how strong a team we are. My goal is to do everything I can to make us better."
Like the Islanders, the Rangers (1-1-0) are trying to avoid consecutive losses. The Rangers have been idle since a 2-0 defeat at Ottawa on Saturday, a loss in which they failed to recover after allowing goals 53 seconds apart early in the first period.
In addition to the loss, the Rangers also learned they would be without pesky left wing Sean Avery, who will be sidelined at least two weeks with a separated left shoulder. Avery, who had career highs of 18 goals and 30 assists, suffered the injury on a hit by Senators right wing Chris Neil midway through the first period.
The Rangers have gone 0-for-10 on the power play in their first two games. Jagr, who has 55 goals and 78 assists in 83 lifetime games against the Islanders, has not scored a goal against them in his last four contests.
The Rangers lost their first four games against the Islanders last season before going 3-0-1 in the final four. The Islanders were 2-1-1 at the Nassau Coliseum versus the Rangers in 2006-07.