ISLANDERS at RANGERS, 7:00 pmCompletely optional morning skate report

Chris Botta on Twitter


11:20 am, Madison Square Garden: Boston won in Atlanta last night (Jack Edwards said he’d been “in louder libraries”), giving tonight’s rivalry tilt less luster than it already had. The Rangers are seven points behind the Bruins, the Islanders ten. The visitors have a chance to stick the dagger in the Blueshirts’ playoff hopes tonight. Besides that, and the 3-D debut, chances are this game might be remembered more in a few years for The Fall for Seguin and Hall than anything else.


Since the Islanders have had a consistently higher battle level than the Rangers through 70 games, I expect them to win tonight. The great unknown is whether Henrik Lundqvist has one of those incredible games where he’s pulling pucks out of his rear. Dwayne Roloson gets the start for the Islanders.




Trevor Gillies in tonight. Jeff Tambellini is the healthy scratch (yeah, I know…I rule with the scoops). The projected Islanders combinations to start tonight:


Moulson – Tavares – Comeau

Sim – Nielsen – Okposo

Bergenheim – Bailey – Hunter

Gillies – Park – Jackman


Meyer – Hillen

Streit – Gervais

Kohn – Reese







Sounds from the Locker Room


Josh Bailey: “Hopefully, we can be a bit of a spoiler. We’re not too focused on where we are in the standings right now, but you never know what’s going to happen.”


Mark Streit: “The guys don’t need any extra motivation. It’s a pleasure to play these games. There’s something in the air you don’t always feel in other games.”


Kyle Okposo: “It’s fun playing these games. The fans make the difference. There never seems to be dull games between us. I like it. I love the physical games. I love getting hit. Helps me get into the game even more.”


Scott Gordon: “(The Rangers) can’t afford to have too many more off nights. I’m sure they’ll be ready to play.”


The Facts


The Islanders have a chance to make a little team history tonight if they beat the Rangers. They are 2-0 against them this season at Madison Square Garden. An Islanders club has never gone undefeated in Manhattan during a season in which they played in the Garden more than twice.


The road ice advantage has been a mainstay in this rivalry. The Islanders are 10-4-1 in their last 15 games at MSG, but are 8-21-3 in their last 32 games against the Rangers at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.


Scott Gordon has done well here in his brief Islanders career. Although the head coach is a combined 0-15-1 in New Jersey, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Gordon is 3-2 at the Garden.




The Stony Brook University roller hockey team is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday, March 27 for the family of Danielle Rosano, a six-year-old girl from East Setauket who was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.


The Stony Brook team will host a three-hour roller hockey clinic on March 27 beginning at noon for children ages 5-14 at Skate Safe America in Bethpage. The cost is $15 per person. All proceeds will go directly to the Rosano family. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.


For more information, to sign up or to make a donation please email and call Harrison Last at 631.216.1539.




Notes: Congratulations to Kings Park’s James Marcou on signing as a collegiate free agent with the San Jose Sharks. The 5-8, 175-pound playmaking dynamo had 51 points (11+40) in 36 games with the University of Massachusetts and is a two-time nominee for the Hobey Baker Award.


The big Islanders fan (his mom used to cut Patrick Flatley’s hair) attended a team minicamp on Long Island three years ago. He demonstrated the skill that has earned him an Entry Level contract with San Jose.


The NHL’s Board of Governors has approved a new rule outlawing headshots. The NHL Players’ Association? Not too sure.


At FanHouse, we have created a trio of NHL awards honoring some people who rarely get any credit. Please vote for the Best Defensive Defenseman of 2009-10 and the Assistant Coach of the Year. The third and final award will be introduced next week.




I’m not sure what, if anything, I’ll have for a postgamer tonight from the Garden. I was asked to cover the 3-D thing for AOL and will be watching at least the first half of the game in the Theatre at MSG. Will try to come up with something. Thanks for reading.


Terrific line in the Newsday rant today. A reader wrote that even though the game is in 3-D, the Rangers will still come out flat. Funny stuff.


Comments on this post and tonight’s game.