The New York Islanders (25-27-8) are all fired-up for the fifth chapter of the Battle of the Big Apple. With a sellout crowd expected at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to watch these two teams play, as not only are there bragging rights-but a two big points on the line for both squads.
For the Islanders, the playoff push has been a tough one, and will be made tougher having to go through the first-place Rangers (38-15-5), who look to continue to separate themselves from the rest of the division.
Looking to haunt his old team is winger P.A. Parenteau, who since joining the Islanders last season has recorded 12 points (5 goals/8 assists) in the last 10 games against the Rangers. Parenteau is one of two Islanders in the league’s top 30 scorers with a career-high 54 points.
Movers and Shakers: The Islanders have been making plenty of moves as of late, in order to find the right pieces for the 2012 playoff push. One of the biggest factors in the game tonight will be the return of blueliner Travis Hamonic, who was taken off the teams injured reserve list.
Hamonic, who broke his nose after getting hit in the face by a deflected puck, has missed approximately two weeks’ time-returns just when the Islanders need him the most. The young blueliner has proved to be a steady force for the Islanders, and will look to defend the Blueshirts top sniper.
The Islanders also announced on Thursday that forward Casey Cizikas has been recalled from loan from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League. Cizikas, 20, leads all Sound Tigers in scoring with 44 points, including a team-high 29 assists, and will be making his NHL debut against the Blueshirts.
With those Cizikas and Hamonic joining the team, the Islanders returned goalie Kevin Poulin and blueliner Aaron Ness to their AHL affiliate. Both Poulin and Ness impressed in their time on the Island, and will look to continue their development and growth in Bridgeport.
Block Party: Both teams are known for blocking shots, as the Isles lead the NHL in that category with 1,021. Leading the charge has been Andrew MacDonald who has 133 of those, which is good for 8th in the NHL.
Let’s get Physical: One thing the Islanders will need to find success against the Blueshirts will be the physical game, helping to lead that charge has been Matt Martin, who leads the NHL in hits with 277.
The fifth edition of the Battle of the Big Apple will air on the MSG networks, with face-off slated for 7:00 p.m.
Written on February 24, 2012