Last season, the Islanders made it known that the Rangers weren’t alone in New York. So who will be king of New York next season?
The Isles finished the shortened season with a 24-17-7 record, only one point behind the 26-18-4 Rangers, and squeezed into the last Eastern playoff spot. It was the first time the Isles made the playoffs since 2007.
Yes, they were eliminated in the first round by the Penguins in six games, but if you watched that series you saw that the Isles could hang with the big boys. Think about it, just two seasons ago these guys were the laughing stock of the league. Now they are finishing one point behind the Rangers, making playoffs, and taking it to cup contenders like the Penguins (holding Crosby to only one point in the series)? I mean, somebody throw these guys a bone, their hungry.
So while the Isles were busy overachieving last season, the Rangers used their time to be as mediocre as possible. Yes, they still finished with a winning record, and made it to the semi-finals before being eliminated by the Bruins in five games. But would you like me to list all the reasons more is expected from the Rangers? Nash, Richards, Lundqvist, Callahan, Del Zotto, get the picture?…
Here’s how the Rangers and Isles match-up:
- In head-to-head match-ups last season, the Rangers have the edge over the Isles winning three of four.
- The Isles outscored the Rangers last season 139 to 130. However, the Rangers gave up 27 less goals (King Henrik).
- The Rangers had a losing road record (10-12-2) while the Isles were hot on the road all season (14-6-4)
- The Isles had the sexier power play scoring 19.9% of the time compared to the Rangers 15.7%
- Both teams love the sin bin. Rangers were first in the league with 444 penalty minutes, and the Isles were third with 461.
These two teams play in the same state yet they are polar opposites of each other. The Isles are scrappy road warriors, with a scary power play capable of putting up big numbers, while the Rangers are a defense-first type team centered around King Henrik and strong defenders who thrive at home.
How could you not have a soft spot for the Isles though? They play in the shittiest, most disease infested rink in the league and no one goes out to watch them play. Do they hang their head? No. They still go out every night and grind it out for 60 minutes. Gotta love the hustle. Nothing but respect for the Isles. 2015 will come soon boys, keep your heads up and don’t touch anything while you’re still in Uniondale.
Those are the facts. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which team owns New York, but I don’t know if there really is a correct answer anymore. If the two teams were to play a seven game series today I really think either team could take it. I think the Isles finally have what it takes to run and gun against the Rangers.