It is a good year for New York hockey with both the Rangers and the Islanders in the playoffs. The Rangers are currently tied with the Capitals in their series, while the Islanders are behind the Penguins 3-2. Both teams are in similar situations as they go up against quality teams with great individual talents in Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh’s Sydney Crosby. The question is; do either one of these teams have what it takes to go all the way?
The Rangers have had the blessing for the last number of years to have Hendrik Lundqvist tending goal, who is arguably the best goalie in the league. The Rangers, who are notoriously not great at scoring, have always had Lundqvist as a safety valve. He is the reason that they are able to have 1-0 and 2-1 wins. Without him, the Rangers may not even be in the playoffs. Even if the offense goes to sleep this postseason, the Rangers have a chance with Lunqvist in net.
The Rangers through a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets picked Rick Nash up this past July. He has helped give the Rangers the needed offensive power they were deprived of in the 2011-12 NHL season. He was the 10th ranked scorer in the league this year with 21 goals and 21 assists on the season. He has been an integral part of the Rangers’ success this year. If he wakes up this series, the Rangers will have a better shot. As of now he has no goals in the series. His play could make or break the Rangers this postseason
Dump and Chase
The Rangers are a tough group of players that will grind and fight on the boards to no end for the puck. Their offense exists largely on a dump and chase approach, which takes great determination and toughness to execute. It is a relatable blue-collar way of playing, which many Rangers fans enjoy
This approach, however, doesn’t always put enough points on the scoreboard for the Rangers and could be their undoing. The dump and chase approach relies on defense and tough play. It is great way to manage the game, but it makes the Rangers one-dimensional. A defense can defend this as long as they do not push up too far on the ice.
John Tavares has played on a lot of bad Islanders teams, but is finally being rewarded now for his wait. The Islanders are young and are showing a lot of promise in the years to come. Tavares is the third ranked scorer in the NHL and the Islanders will need him to lead them back from a 3-2 deficit this series.
He scored 26 goals this season and has 2 goals so far this postseason. The Islanders will be looking to him to have a huge game 6. If he plays well, the Islanders will have a shot at putting the Penguins away in 7 games.
With the Rick DiPietro disaster behind the Islanders, the Islanders now have a reliable, affordable, and solid goaltender in net with Evgeni Nabokov. He has no contract to live up to or media distractions. He and the Islanders can concentrate on playing hockey.
Evgeni Nabokov has 23 wins on the season, which is only one win off the league leader and 14 more than the league average. He is the rock the young Islanders can lean on this playoff series.
While the youth of the Islanders is one of the things that show they have a bright future, it will likely be their undoing this postseason. They don’t have playoff experience or overall experience to make a run at the cup. That’s not saying that the Islanders have no shot, but that their chances are slim. Their youth is part of their inconsistency. They have the ability upset the Penguins one night, but than lose 4-0 the next night. Islanders’ fans should feel good about their team whether they win this series or not. It looks like the Islanders may be back.