The Tom Wilson game has created all the buzz, but by the time it arrives at the Garden on May 3, the decision has already been made to move on from the executive team of President John Davidson and General Manager Jeff Gorton.
And if a team is responsible for the decision implemented by Garden President Jim Dolan (excluding the Rangers), it is not the Capitals.
It’s the islanders.
And the dates and games that Dolan surrounds are April 20, when the Blueshirts defeated Matt Martin’s Law Hit 6-1 at the Coliseum in a game when Jacob Trouba was shocked; And at the Garden on April 29, when Ryan Lindgren was suspected to have suffered a concussion in the third period after the clash, defenseman Cal Calterbuck embarked on a second consecutive defeat, 4-0.
(There was another humiliation two days later in a 3-0 defeat on Long Island, in which Martin fired an elbow to Mika Zibanejad’s face with no repercussions, but the Rangers had degenerated by that point and a disappointing team a week away from the end of the season.)
The Rangers’ inability to stay competitive against the Islanders throughout the season, when the 2-5-1 shut down four times and dominated physically, put alarm bells across the organization. The Islanders, and in particular the Identity Line, which includes Martin, Clutterbuck and Casey Czijikas, were threatening the beach with sand on the collective faces of the Rangers.
Wilson’s work, therefore, has become a folkloric thing and is credited with being the impetus to play the organization’s swarm as a massive and tough team, much of which reveals Rangers identity as white-gloves. A trifleable team.
And now, just a month into the new season, the Rangers took the Islanders on Thanksgiving Eve for the first time under their new administration, with Chris Drury as the top president and David Quinn as GM and Gerard Gallant behind the bench. He took the islanders for the first time in a new location in Belmont.
They got the Islanders on as the Blueshirts were riding high at 11-4-3, and the hosts suffered at the bottom of the division at 5-8-2; Six straight losers in regulation while outing a total of 27-6; And seven players, including Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Adam Pellech, Andy Green and Zedeno Chara, along with injured reserve Ryan Pulak and Brock Nelson.
Had the NHL been concerned about competitive integrity, the game would not have been played. But it has never been higher on the league’s priorities list, so the game continued to grow as the Flyers had six regulars on the COVID list in Philadelphia last year.
But if this represents an unfortunate situation for the islanders, it certainly represents an opportunity for rangers to step on their opponents’ symbolic collective necks. This represents an opportunity for blueshirts to reveal their new identity, but the island’s identity line is still intact.
The Rangers did not respond physically when PK Subban took Sammy Blaise for the season on November 14 in the Garden. When questioned a couple of days later, Ryan Reeves gave a rational explanation.
But although responsibility is not exclusively with the number 75, blueshirts have been increasingly wary of the island with players Martin and Clutterbuck, who have historically wreaked havoc on blueshirts.
It’s not about repayment. It’s about paying it forward.
Last year, the Islanders shot down Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin, denying the time and place of the Rangers’ signature forwards. Panarin scored eight points (3-5) in three games against the Islanders a season ago after posting four points (2-2) in the eight-game season series. Zibanejad checked in 2019-20 with three points (1-2) in eight games after registering five points (2-3) in four games.
This game is no. 10 and 93 represent an opportunity to reinvent themselves and dominate the competition against a team that does not have a Pellech-Pulak defense pair. This game represents an opportunity for the Rangers to throw out their new stuff against a team that broke them a year ago.