New York Rangers Return To Long Island

The 2014-15 President’s Trophy winning season sure was chock-full of highlights and ever-lasting memories for the New York Rangers and their legions of devoted fans. Among the most memorable took place on March 10th, 2015 in a place called the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, in a town called Uniondale.

Winners Last Time Out

You see, this mid-March classic between two bitter rivals was supposed to be the last “Battle of New York” on Long Island with the Islanders set to head west and move into the spanking new Barclay Center in Brooklyn the following season. The Rangers, behind a third period goal from Rick Nash and a Herculean performance in net from Cam Talbot, skated off Coliseum ice for the final time, winners, by a 2-1 score.

Little did anyone know back in 2015, not even the most optimistic fan of the team clad in blue and orange, that the vagabond Isles would soon return to their original home arena and split playing time between the county of Nassau and the borough of Brooklyn.

Rangers Islanders

The Rangers are playing their first game at Nassau Coliseum since Mar. 10, 2015 (2-1 win). The Rangers have won five of their last six games at Nassau Coliseum (5-1-0 record) and have earned at least one point in seven of their last eight games at the venue (6-1-1 record). The Blueshirts have also posted a 14-5-1 record in their last 20 games at Nassau Coliseum. Six of the last seven games between the two teams at Nassau Coliseum have been decided by one goal, and three of those contests have been decided in either overtime or a shootout.

Via New York Rangers PR

The Old Barn Rivalry

Ever since the Islanders made their NHL debut in 1972, Long Island Blueshirt fans were determined to mark their territory as they made their way down the Meadowbrook Parkway getting off at the Hempstead Turnpike exit, donned in Ranger jerseys, entering the Coliseum with moxie, bravado and a whole-lot-of swagger.

Legendary former Islander coach, the late Al Arbour famously told stories of Ranger fans reaching over the glass to thwack him on the back of his head. The Hall-of Fame coach, at that time, could not understand why he was getting abused inside his home arena.

The Rangers/Islanders rivalry was as intense as any in all of sports both on the ice and in the stands. Heck, there are even tales of a brawl between Ranger fans and Islanders fans at Shea Stadium of all place during a Mets game in 1979. Those, like myself, who grew up Ranger fans on Long Island prior to 1994, took our safety into our own hands by wearing some piece of Ranger memorabilia to school or hanging around town. Deciding to wear a cap with the Ranger shield or putting on a T-shirt with the diagonal team name across my torso was sure to invite insults, threats, mockery and cries of “1940”.

These schoolyard vitriolic epithets were a walk in the park compared to venturing into enemy territory to witness, live, the greatest rivalry in the NHL. Many a time, I had to keep my head on a swivel and keep my guard up in preparation of an intoxicated Islander fan with beer muscles blazing, looking for a Ranger fan to make an example out of. I am sure many of our loyal and valued readers of the Forever Blueshirts blog have similar encounters of Nassau Coliseum animistic behavior. But, as the saying goes, Rangers at Islanders was “not for the faint of heart.”

I proudly represented my hockey team dozens of times at the Coliseum, took the slings and arrows and felt oh so good exiting the building after game three of the 1994 playoff series in which the Rangers pummeled their not-so-friendly neighbors to the east, 5-1.

Rangers celebrate with cam Talbot last regular season win ever at the Nassau Coliseum (Photo by Mike Stobe/ Getty Images)

The Return

On Thursday. January 16th, for the first time in almost five years, the New York Rangers will march into what is now known as NYCB LIVE at the Nassau Coliseum. But, Ranger fans still affectionately call that building, “MSG East”. If you have never had the privilege of experiencing the NHL’s most fiercest rivalry on Long Island, my suggestion is you click on to a secondary market ticket selling site and treat yourself. Sure, the contests are high-octane at Madison Square Garden and at Barclay, but there is nothing like the intensity, animosity and intimacy of New York Rangers at New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum.

So, my Ranger fan brethren, before the Isles head to their permanent new home at Belmont Park and leave the Coliseum to the Disney On Ice folks, do yourself a favor and be in attendance for the game on January 16th or the contest in late February. You’ll be glad you did!

Pre-Game Notes

  • All-Time: 128-115-19-9 (73-46-11-6 at home; 55-69-8-3 on the road)
  • Tonight’s game is the second of four meetings between the Rangers and Islanders, and the first of two meetings between the two teams on Long Island. The Rangers have posted a 1-0-0 record (1-0-0 at home; 0-0-0 on the road), following their 6-2 win on Jan. 13 at MSG. Artemi Panarin (five points) and Jesper Fast (three points) each tied single-game career-highs in points in the contest, while Adam Fox (one goal, one assist) and Brady Skjei (two assists) each registered two points. Alexandar Georgiev made 32 saves to earn the win in the contest. Following tomorrow’s game, the Rangers and Islanders will face each other on the following dates: Jan. 21 (at MSG), Feb. 25 (at Long Island).
  • Artemi Panarin has posted a three-point game in six of the last nine games (six goals, 16 assists), and according to NHL Stats and Information, he is the first Ranger in franchise history who has registered six three-point games over a nine-game span. Panarin has registered 67 points in 45 games this season; the only two players who have recorded more points in the Rangers’ first 45 games of a season in franchise history are Jean Ratelle (79 points in 1971-72) and Jaromir Jagr (69 points in 2005-06). He leads the NHL in several categories this season, including even strength points (52; MacKinnon ranks second with 44), even strength assists (32), 5-on-5 points (45), and 5-on-5 assists (29), and he also ranks fourth in the NHL in points (67) in 2019-20, trailing only McDavid (74), Draisaitl (73), and MacKinnon (68). Panarin has notched 40 or more assists in each of his first five NHL seasons, and he is the third undrafted player in league history who has tallied at least 40 assists in each of his first five seasons (along with Wayne Gretzky and Peter Stastny).

Notes courtesy of the New York Rangers PR Dept.