Throughout this season, Our Rob Taub will give his preview of the week ahead for the New York Islanders. There will be what to watch for, and one x-factor for both the Isles and the opposing team they face that night.
The Islanders won’t be playing again till Saturday when they will invade Madison Square Garden for a big tilt with the hated Rangers.
But until then, this week the team and several others around the league were scheduled for a mandated five-day hiatus. This pause in the year couldn’t have come at a more crucial time for the blue and orange. They won for the first time in 2018 yesterday in comeback fashion to stop the bleeding of five straight losses and being outscored 25-8 in the process. Weight’s cast have been battered and bruised, and have even had to look in the mirror to do some soul-searching from Weight himself.
The Isles only sit two points out of a playoff spot — and with another 40 games ahead — everyone needed this break as Weight pointed out after this weekend. Lets hope this break does exactly what it should do: re-energize the club and when they step on the Garden ice, it will be the start of a special period for the team and the fans.
Saturday: at New York Rangers
What a better way to technically start the second half of the season then with your biggest rival. That’s exactly the task that will be facing the Islanders when they battle the Blueshirts on Saturday at 1PM.
A lot has changed since the two clubs met back in late October when the Isles scored a 4-3 shootout victory. The Rangers were floundering and their season was going down the drain, while the Islanders were just beginning to assert themselves as the best offense in the NHL. Now, the tables have turned with the Rangers in a dogfight for a top-three spot in the Metro, while the Isles have struggled recently with their season nearly crumbling.
The Isles have had the Rangers number as of late, sporting a 7-1-0 record in their last eight games. Jaroslav Halak — who is expected to get the start in goal, has a dominating 11-1-0 mark against Henrik Lundqvist in his career. After this weekend, the two teams will meet twice — once in mid February, and the second to last game of the year.
Matchup to watch: The Islanders opportunistic power play going up against the Rangers stout penalty kill.
X-Factors: Jimmy Vesey, Jordan Eberle