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Friday, January 31, 2014
W2W4: Rangers vs. Isles

By Katie Strang

At a glance: You again? Yes, that’s right the New York Rangers and New York Islanders meet for the third time in 12 days, having last played in Wednesday night’s outdoor Stadium Series game in the Bronx. While the Blueshirts are rolling along towards the Olympic break with five wins in the last seven games, the Islanders are desperate to snap a four-game losing streak that is putting their playoff chances in peril.

Keeping hope alive: if the Islanders want to prevent general manager Garth Snow from going into sell mode at the trade deadline March 5, they’ll probably have to win their final five games before the Olympic break. As it currently stands, the Islanders sit eight points back from the last wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Though they went on a run to secure their first playoff appearance in six years last spring during a lockout-shortened 2013 season, their chances are looking pretty grim right now.

Adjustment period: The Blueshirts played their last pair of games outside in sub-freezing temperatures. Although they recorded four points with wins in each, the Rangers are likely to feel a bit relieved to play under normal conditions the rest of the way. Players can ditch the extra layers and ear-warmers. They'll worry a little less about the ice conditions and a bouncing puck.

Nice stretch for Nash: Rick Nash is producing at an impressive clip as he prepares to compete for Team Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The star winger, who won gold in Vancouver in 2010, has tallied 11 goals in the past 12 games. He leads the Rangers with 18 on the season. He’ll join forces in Sochi with Islanders’ superstar center John Tavares, who is second in the NHL in scoring (only behind Sidney Corsby) with 64 points.

Stingy on D: The Rangers have allowed two goals or fewer in nine of their last 11 games and were particularly stingy on the penalty kill against a dangerous Islanders power-play that boasts the likes of Tavares, Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo. The Rangers held the Isles without a power-play goal on four man-up opportunities.

Down and out: The Islanders will be without one of their top defensemen Travis Hamonic, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with what is believed to be a concussion.