I wonder if Christopher Columbus knew that part of his lasting legacy would be bringing daytime hockey to Long Island? The blog is heading out to Uniondale to check out the clash between the Rangers and Islanders today. Here are four blips to put on your radar.
The Rangers' Derek Stepan was going to get a lot of attention early in the season because he's all shiny and new and the team's youngest addition. But after scoring three times in his Blueshirt debut for a goal-starved team, the spotlight is officially on. I'll be watching to see how he follows up his sublime first game. And I doubt I'll be alone.
Is the best yet to come?
Marian Gaborik didn't score a single goal in the Rangers' 6-3 win over Buffalo, though the top line got on the scoreboard thanks to Erik Christensen. If Gaborik and linemate Alexander Frolov can get on track early in the season, and the secondary lines keep clicking, the Rangers could have a far more potent scoring attack than most anticipated.
Who's No. 1?
The bubble wrap didn't work. John Tavares suffered a mild concussion in the Isles' season-opening 5-4 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars and will most likely miss this afternoon's game. Who will step up in his absence? Newsday reported that Josh Bailey centered the top line at practice yesterday, so expect him to get the nod today. As for Tavares, Chris Botta says he should be held out all week. I have to agree with him on that score. There is no sense risking the future of your franchise unnecessarily.
Another powerful performance?
For at least one game the Islanders didn't miss Mark Streit at the point. The power play, abysmal in the 2009-10 campaign, was clicking on all cylinders Saturday night. The team potted three goals on eight attempts with the man advantage, including one by newcomer James Wisniewski, who will need to stay strong without Streit. The Rangers' PK is a solid unit and will provide a good test. But there should be more than a few opportunities, because, hey, it's Rangers-Islanders. Someone should make sure the penalty box doors are oiled.
The Post's Larry Brooks says tonight's game is the Rangers' first opportunity to prove the game in Buffalo wasn't an aberration.
Also, here's the Post recap from the Isles-Stars game.
The Rangers' team site previews today's rivalry matchup.
As does the Isles' team site.
The Rangers expect a fast start from the Islanders and Derek Boogaard expects to be busy, according to the Daily News.