New York Rangers face rival Islanders in second exhibition game
Many consider the New York Islanders the archrival of the New York Rangers, even more so than the New Jersey Devils team that defeated the Blueshirts in their first round exit from the playoffs last year. For tonight, it is the Long Island-based team who’ll be the second one the Rangers face in exhibition action this preseason.
The game will be played at home, however, on Madison Square Garden ice — and will likely feature several more established, veteran players from Rangers’ training camp than Game 1 against the Bruins in Boston on Sunday evening.
Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:
New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders
Date/Time: September 26, 2023 at 7:00 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden
TV: MSG, MSGSN, NHL Network
Note: Subject to change. Updated for each game.
Reactions to exhibition game one
The Rangers will be looking to bounce back from Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Bruins.
Reactions from both head coach Peter Laviolette and players from Game 1 were mixed, despite the team having been somewhat goalied by Bruins rookie net minder Brandon Bussi in his impressive first game on NHL ice.
“I thought tonight the chances that we gave up, it wasn’t a quantity thing — it was a quality thing,” said Laviolette after Game 1. “Too many noisy chances against; you can’t give up…a breakaway, or not have the coverage when you’re in the offensive zone that leads to something coming back, so one thing we definitely have to get better at is controlling those types of chances…
“Conversely, I thought, as the game moved on, we generated quite a few of those chances, and their goaltender did a good job and [we] hit a couple posts and [he] got a couple nice saves. Just defensively, I would have liked to have seen us tighten it up a little bit,” remarked the coach.
Said Blueshirts center Filip Chytil: “Tough game, but [the] first game in preseason…so it’s a game we now have behind us, and now we can focus on tomorrow’s practice.”
Mika Zibanejad’s status for game two
One concern arising Sunday prior to exhibition game one was the status of top-line center Mika Zibanejad, considered by all crucial to the success of this team. As announced by the Rangers, Zibanejad suffered an upper-body injury in a pre-game scrimmage that took place in the team’s Tarrytown, NY practice facility, and was listed as day to day.
To the relief of just about everyone concerned with the Blueshirts and their impending season, however, by many reports Zibanejad appeared on the ice for Monday’s practice — albeit in a non-contact jersey. That signifies the injury is not considered serious at this time. Many expect he may play in exhibition game two — though that, of course, is always subject to change.
“We will be 100% careful with [Mika],” Laviolette noted. “It was good to see him out there– but there won’t be any push to get him out [for the game versus the Islanders].”
Rangers possible roster vs Isles
Based on Monday’s practice and practice groupings the lineup could be as follows:
Forwards: Nick Bonino, Alexis Lafreniere, Jake Leschyshyn, Chris Kreider, Barclay Goodrow, Anton Blidh, Turner Elson, Karl Henriksson, Alex Belzile, Tyler Pitlick, Matt Rempe, Brennan Othmann, Adam Edstrom, Mika Zibanejad
Defensemen: Braden Schneider, Adam Fox, Nicholas Brouillard, Matthew Robertson, Ryan Lindgren, Erik Gustafsson, Mac Hollowell
Goalies: Igor Shesterkin, Dylan Garand
Getting ready for exhibition game two
“Today was good just in terms of getting out there and practicing,” said Laviolette Monday afternoon after the day’s groups worked for several sessions on the ice. “You take stuff right from last night and try to implement it, try to fix some things out on the ice.”
Said Blueshirts defenseman Braden Schneider after the initial exhibition game loss to the Bruins, “I thought it was good to get out there and to feel the game pace, and to feel back in the swing of things. So, it’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Schneider also commented on the change of system the Rangers are learning from their new head coach, saying “obviously it’s gonna be a process” when discussing how players are learning to position themselves differently on the ice and their new ways of trying to defend.
Facing the Islanders
The Islanders this season feature many of the familiar faces the Blueshirts have seen in the past. Back among the forward group are Matt Barzal, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, and Kyle Palmieri, among others. New to this year’s team, however, are former Ranger Julien Gauthier, along with a freshly signed Pierre Engvall, traded to the Isles last February by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Among the defensemen are Sebastian Aho, Scott Mayfield, and Ryan Pulock. Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov remain with the team as goalies, though there are three other net minders listed on their roster and it’ll be interesting to see which of the five the Rangers see in the game tonight.