(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Two days before the Rangers get set for their first matchup in Brooklyn, they finally got back on track.
Sure, it was against the lowly Carolina Hurricanes and sure, they struggled throughout, but the 4-3 win was welcome in the Ranger dressing room.
“I thought there were some moments tonight where we stepped up our play,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “We killed a big penalty in the second period. (Kevin Hayes) comes out of the box and we score our fourth goal. We were down to five defensemen early, so we had to buckle down. It might not have been the best of execution at times, but as far as our focus and mindset, we were in the right place.”
Great, because they will need some momentum. After going into a turkey coma last week, the Rangers needed a win under their belt. Losers of three straight, they looked an entirely different club last week.
And last night, they were not as sharp, but it was just enough against the Hurricanes.
The Islanders also are going into the big game with some momentum with a 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Brooklyn. The Isles have fared better recently, going 3-3 in the last six games, including winning the last two.
Fortunately for the Isles, they got production last night from their fourth line.
“A lot of guys played hard, did a lot of good things and got rewarded for it and certainly they were a catalyst for us tonight,” said captain John Tavares.
Even with the local wins, both teams can use this game as a benchmark where they are after two months into the season. The Rangers and Islanders have not played on all cylinders, however they generally raise the intensity when they play each other.
“Certainly start off December with a bang and were looking forward to it,” Tavares said. “It’s always a lot of emotion and the rivalries a lot of fun and its the first time this season so we’re looking forward to it.”
The Rangers will be without Derek Stepan and possibly Kevin Klein. The latter will probably mean Dylan McIlrath will suit up, giving the Blueshirts some toughness. These games tend to get physical and the Islanders will probably take it to the speedy Rangers.
This all equates to a must watch game in December. Both the Rangers and Islanders seem to be ready and that’s all we can ask for two months into the season.