Rangers 3 EN, Islanders 0

With tonight’s loss in Manhattan, the Islanders are now 2-7-2 against the Atlantic division this year. They’ve earned a meager 6 of a possible 22 points in those games. They’re 11 points out of 8th in the conference and dare I say, another ‘loser point’ here, a win there and that number is mid-single digits. When you subtract out the divisional record, the Islanders are 9-10-4. That’s still under .500, but that’s a much better looking record. But that’s how the NHL schedule is currently built with 8 games 6 games against each of your divisional opponents, the division will sort itself out. As inclusive as this divisional alignment can be for the stronger divisions as compared to the weak ones, there’s still a heavy emphasis on divisional games. The Rangers are a very strong team, and the division seems to be sorting itself out.

The Islanders caught a few bad breaks and fell to a very solid team on the road. The first period plus were back and forth. Despite the shutout, I don’t think the Islanders were blatantly non-competitive. They had their chances and were unable to convert. Milan Jurcina rung one off the post early in the second and the Rangers came back and converted on a similarly juicy chance on the other end of the ice a few minutes later. The Rangers would add another early on in the third and behind solid defense and Henrik Lundqvist, effectively shut the door. Or, for an alternate story, insert Nielsen’s point blank chance on the power play towards the end of the second. The Islanders had their chances and by both Lundqvist’s goaltending and their own doing, they couldn’t convert.

On Friday the Islanders faced the Leafs, who had a human rebound machine in net and thus weren’t able to shut down the Isles after jumping out to an early lead. With Lundqvist in net, it was a much different story. The Islanders are not a good team defensively, so there is very little wiggle room for them when the offense isn’t finding the net and the D makes a couple mistakes.

– Micheal Haley took on Stu Bickel early in the first, obvious redemption for ‘jumping’ Tim Wallace last week. Haley really laid a shot on Bickel early in the fight, possibly what gave the referees reason to apply an otherwise odd instigator (two minutes for breaking his face?). It was a nice shot and Haley’s message was sent loud and clear. We’ll have to wait and see how Bickel wants to react to the message next time these teams meet. Here’s the video:

– As far as intimidation and dirty plays go, Dan Girardi’s kneeing penalty on John Tavares was a little from column A, a little from column B. Girardi’s not a dirty player and I doubt he was attempting to injure Tavares. To me, it looked like once Girardi knew that he missed his check and he realized Tavares was getting by him without being touched, he wanted to do whatever he could to stop Tavares from beating him cleanly. Unfortunately for all involved, he resolved that problem with one of hockey’s biggest no-nos. It was a dirty play — that was only skate to skate and could have been much worse — from a player who doesn’t usually play that way.