The question is already getting old here on the brink of what is only the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams. I don’t root, or at least I don’t root for teams as much as I do stories, but I’ll go on record saying I hope for something to ask tonight other than the obligatory, “What is it about these guys that you can’t solve?”
Granted, I have my theories. While all three Islanders wins so far have been of the one-goal variety, the Rangers have been largely outworked in all three, and that stems from the fact that the Islanders outwork almost every team, but also them knowing they’re going to have to get by on grit and guile against their supposedly more talented rival. So far, even Tom Renney conceded just now, they’ve done that.
Then there is Rick DiPietro. It’s true the Rangers have a knack for making every goaltender they face look like the second coming of Patrick Roy, but with DiPietro, even something as simple as dumping the puck into the zone has been largely counterproductive. While I think Henrik Lundqvist is the superior overall goaltender, he is far inferior to DiPietro when it comes to handling the puck. And when the Rangers wrap the puck hard around the boards and into the Islanders zone, all they’re essentially doing is turning it over.
Renney said the team will try to carry the puck in more against the Islanders tonight, although that, too, can be difficult given how effectively the Islanders clog the zone. Some of you have suggested the diagonal dump-in, which is certainly one good idea. Another is merely a soft chip into the zone. Whatever they do, they need to get the puck deep without giving the Islanders such an easy opportunity to break out.
OK, this concludes today’s edition of chalk talk. As for updates: