Alain Vigneault looks on ((Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

Islanders just want it more than the Rangers in the regular season (NYI 4 v. NYR 1)

Halal stopped almost every puck he saw last night (Bruce Bennett - Getty)
Halal stopped almost every puck he saw last night (Bruce Bennett – Getty)

Ho-hum, the Islanders dominated the Rangers again in a regular season match up. To be honest, if it wasn’t for Jaroslav Halak and some puck luck the results could’ve been different.

Islanders 4 vs. Rangers 1

NYR at NYI 1/28/15 (ESPN)
NYR at NYI 1/28/15 (ESPN)

Last night, the Rangers were done in by the brilliant goaltending of Halak, who simply was sharp. His 26-9 record is tremendous to go along with his 2.37 GAA and .913 SV%. It makes you wonder how this guy is playing for his 4th NHL team!

Much like the Islanders this season, Halak is a regular season hero with career numbers of 170-94-29. Pretty good until you look at the postseason record of 10-11. So maybe all those chanting “You Can’t Beat Us!” and “Yes, Yes, Yes” better hope and pray they win a playoff round this year. A feat the Islanders haven’t accomplished in 21 years.

The Rangers also need to understand that the level of play they bring into these regular season contests against the upstart (yes, they are still upstarts) Islanders must be better. Much better.

From the drop of the puck, the Islanders just wanted it more. They were swarming like bees on every Ranger that touched the puck. The Isles hit Blueshirts and shot pucks from everywhere, which netted them 2 fortunate bounces that were enough to put them over the top.

“They came out real well,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “I don’t know if it was us mishandling or a combination of that and them forcing us into mistakes, but we made some bad decisions that really cost us.” The forcing aspect was a direct result of desire. Even Halak admitted that this was viewed as a “playoff game” afterwards.

The Rangers didn’t match the Islanders intensity in the first period and Mikhail Grabovski scored a beauty tic-tac goal. However, the Rangers settled in and were the better team for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, two lucky bounce goals by Matt Martin and Ryan Strome would seal the deal and the Islanders won again.

Are the Islanders really far superior than the Rangers? The answer is no. Each has a +25 goal differential with the Islanders scoring 20 more goals than the Rangers. In contrast, for as awesome as Halak was last night, the Rangers have given up 20 less goals than the Islanders.

Come playoff time when goals are at a premium, give me the team that gives up less than the one that scores more. Ain’t that right Pittsburgh?

For now, the Islanders just want it more than the Rangers…in January.

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