Even with their seven-game losing streak snapped this week, the New York Rangers aren’t out of the woods yet from their disappointing start to the season.
Picked by many to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, Gerard Gallant’s squad got off to a slow 11-10-5 start. Their recent stretch of solid play against some of the league’s best breathed life into the fanbase and the locker room, but that doesn’t mean they are out of the woods yet.
Now at 18-11-5, New York’s next stretch of tough competition means facing familiar foes over the next week. It starts Thursday night against their rivals, the New York Islanders.
While both New York teams have enjoyed playoff success over the last three seasons, the Islanders have had the better of the series between the two teams recently.
The Rangers have lost eight of the last 10 games to the Isles with a 32-17 scoring difference. After splitting the season series last season, the Rangers have dropped their first two of three to their rivals in disappointing fashion.
The Blueshirts were shut out in their first meeting at UBS Arena in October earlier this year and ended up blowing a 3-1 lead in a November showing to fall 4-3. In both matchups, the Rangers’ defense broke down when they needed stops and their offense struggled to finish in key spots.
In a way, the Rangers’ struggles this season are a perfect encapsulation of what their struggles have been like all season.
As the two teams meet up for a third and final time this season at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers will look to hold off a potential Islander sweep for the second time in three seasons. As the season continues to get tougher for both squads and a playoff berth might come down to both teams, it’ll be up to the Rangers to see if they can finally end their recent woes against their hated rivals.