Redskin

Staple: The Rangers-Islanders rivalry feels different this season


The Rangers may not have had Wednesday circled on their team calendar, but it had to be a night that every member of last season’s team had an idea about. They can certainly remember the back-to-back games — at the Garden on April 29 and at the Coliseum on May 1 — when the hopeful Rangers, winners of seven of their previous nine to pull within five points of the Isles for the last playoff spot in the makeshift East Division, saw everything come crashing down.

They were 4-0 and 3-0 Islander wins, typical for the team from the Island in crunch time: Lots of hits, lots of grinding and timely goals. The Rangers offered little resistance; two days later came the Tom Wilson-Artemi Panarin sideshow, the statement about NHL Player Safety director George Parros, a huge fine, firings, etc.

The Islanders? They skated away from that smoking heap on their way to another playoff berth and another deep run.

“They had a good team, a great year and when we played them we weren’t at our best,” Ryan Strome said. “We’re a different-looking team.”

That’s true for the Rangers. It is really true for the Islanders right now. This was supposed to be a measuring stick for the Rangers, for Chris Drury and his reconfigured roster.

Instead, with the Islanders reeling from seven players in COVID-19 protocol, two on multi-week injuries and six straight losses, the Rangers might just take that measuring stick and beat the Isles into submission with it.





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