BATTLE OF NEW YORK — Islanders vs. Rangers at the Coliseum Tomorrow Night

Kevin Schultz

The tickets are all gone on Ticketmaster, and it’ll cost you at least $180 for a spot in the last row of the arena on StubHub. That’s because tomorrow night is the biggest New York vs. New York hockey game in a long time.

The Rangers visit the Coliseum on Saturday night with only slightly more than a half dozen games left in the season. Both teams are in the hunt for the playoffs; the Islanders are tied for sixth with Ottawa and the Rangers are only an inch behind, tied for eighth with Winnipeg.

Over the past two decades, both teams have had ups and downs. But they’ve very rarely met in as significant a game as this. They haven’t met in the playoffs since 1994, so this might as well be a playoff game for both teams. With the way Islanders fans have been fired up in recent games, it will surely be a playoff atmosphere at the Coliseum.

The last time these teams met in a game anywhere near this significant was 2007, when they met on March 25 of that year at the Coliseum. Writes Larry Brooks in today’s NY Post:

In 2006-07, the seventh-place Rangers held a two-point lead over the 10th-place Islanders, who had eight games to go and one in hand on the Blueshirts.

Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi and Ryan Callahan are the only players on either club to have participated in that one, a 2-1 Rangers’ victory on Brendan Shanahan’s goal against Rick DiPietro at 4:11 of overtime.

Both teams made the playoffs that season. The Rangers, who gained the six seed, swept Atlanta in the first round before losing in six to Buffalo. The Islanders, who finished eighth in what was their most recent trip to the tournament, were beaten in a five-game first round by the Sabres.

The Islanders haven’t been to the post-season since 2007, when Wade Dubielewicz’s poke check in the shootout of the final game gave the Islanders enough points to sneak in past Toronto.

It’s been a long time since the Islanders played a game as important as that one and even longer since there’s been a reason for fans of both these two teams to be excited at the same time. Both teams are hot right now, giving both fanbases to be excited. The Isles are 8-1-1 in their last ten while the Rangers are 4-1-1 in their last six. The two teams have combined for only one regulation loss in April thus far.

So whether you pony up the two benjamins to get into the NVMC or you watch in front of your favorite TV, enjoy it. It’s going to be a hell of a game.