Friday, February 24, 2012
W2W4: Rangers vs. Isles
By Katie Strang
At a glance: The Rangers and Islanders square off for the fifth time this season with the Blueshirts holding a 3-1-0 series edge. Losers in two of their past three games, the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers aim to bounce back from a 2-0 shutout loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday in the first game of a back-to-back set this weekend. The Islanders, desperately holding on to their playoff hopes, have dropped two straight heading into Friday's match.
Back at it: The Rangers kick off their 10th of 14 back-to-back sets this season and they do so with a pretty strong record. New York is 7-0-2 in the first game of the set and 7-1-1 of the second. The Rangers complete the back-to-back with Saturday's match against the Sabres at Madison Square Garden.
Nabokov, Hamonic to return: Both goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and defenseman Travis Hamonic will return to the Islanders' lineup. Nabokov, who has been battling the flu, has not played since Feb. 14. Hamonic, who suffered a broken nose after taking a puck to the face earlier this month, has missed nine straight games.
Power-less play: After a brief surge earlier this month, the Rangers' power play is ailing once again. The 28th-ranked unit is 0-for-12 over the past three games and was blanked seven times alone in the team’s 4-2 loss to Chicago last week.
Cizikas debut: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL) on Thursday, Casey Cizikas will make his NHL debut against the Islanders bitter rivals. The 20-year-old center, has 15 goals and 29 assists in 51 games for the Sound Tigers this season. Cizikas will replace Josh Bailey, was forced from Tuesday’s game because of back spasms.
Nash watch: Rumored to be the front-runners in the Rick Nash sweepstakes, the Rangers will be keeping a close eye on Columbus with Monday's trade deadline only three days away. The downtrodden Blue Jackets shipped disgruntled center Jeff Carter to L.A. on Thursday night, and Antoine Vermette to Phoenix earlier this week. Could Nash be the next one on the move? The Rangers are also reportedly interested in Kings’ captain Dustin Brown, who is apparently available for the right price.