There are several reasons why the Islanders are the better team than the Rangers when it comes to hockey in New York, both currently and historically. While the teams are neck and neck in the standings right now, it’s not farfetched to think the Islanders will win the division when the season is said and done and do some damage in the playoffs.
To start, the Islanders have one of the best players in the NHL on their team, John Tavares, who is better than any player the Rangers have on offense, despite Rick Nash being near the top of the league on goals. The Isles captain has a very good chance of winning the Hart Trophy for the NHL’s MVP, and the Art Ross for leading the league in points. The team is continuing to win without their second best forward, Kyle Okposo, who had surgery on his detached retina, who might be coming back soon. Once he comes back, the team will definitely be in business. This season has seen the Islanders play their best regular season hockey in over 20 years.
The Isles also have the better young core than the Blueshirts. I’d like to think most fans around the league would take forwards Tavares, Ryan Strome, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and defenseman Nick Leddy and Travis Hamonic over Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh.
The Islanders and Rangers have each won four Stanley Cups. The difference is that the Rangers have been around almost 50 more years than the Isles. The Rangers also won three of their championships when there were less than ten teams in the league. If the Islanders had those luxuries, they’d almost certainly have more than four Stanley Cups. The Rangers championship team in 1994 basically consisted of the core from the Edmonton Oilers roster that won five Stanley Cups just a few years prior. Mark Messier, Craig MacTavish and Glenn Anderson were all on the Oilers championship rosters.
All that said, it should be an exciting finish to the rest of the regular season and an even more exciting postseason. Let’s go Islanders!
As a Ranger’s fan I’d mention the fact that Glen Sather has a habit of tossing talent (Gaborik, Del Zotto, Dubinsky, Bickel) That and Tortorella were the biggest downfall. Capuano’s very hands-off approach has allowed the team to grow outside of the restraints that Torts had on the Rangers.
The Rangers went from “Tex’s Rangers” to “The Classiest Team In Hockey,” and now, they’re riding atop a four-game win streak and holding the top spot in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference. New York Rangers Hockey is an incomparable combination of legendary talent, charisma, and bad-assery. Then, there is the team that will forever remain in the shadow of their Big Apple rivals, The New York Islanders.
In 1926 the National Hockey League took over the defunct World Hockey League and two years later the New York Rangers were hoisting the Stanley Cup trophy. Two years later. The league was born and then, just two years later, greatness was established. This is 44 years before the Isles were even founded and more than half a century before they hoisted that same trophy.
It started with moonshine, really. A lot of moonshine. William “Big Bill” Dwyer amassed a fortune peddling moonshine. Big Bill jumped at the chance to own a professional hockey team in New York City. So, he purchased the Hamilton Tigers, moved them from Canada to the newly built Madison Square Garden and renamed them the New York Americans .
George Lewis “Tex” Rickard, a prominent boxing promoter, was running the Garden at the time and decided to get in on the professional hockey scene and purchased an expansion team, “Tex’s Rangers.” The New York Rangers are a team built on the money of gangsters, cowboys, and boxers. It’s not just a New York story, it’s an American story.
Islanders fans will no doubt mention the string of championships in the early 1980s. It’s admittedly impressive, but their greatness was fleeting. It came in quickly and unexpectedly and left in the same fashion. I see it on the tattered, fading jackets of Long Island fathers and grandfathers who’ve been unable to buy a new championship jacket for the past 32 years.
Eddie Giacomin. Brian Leetch. Harry Howell. Lester Patrick. Davey Kerr. Rod Gilbert. Andy Bathgate. Adam Graves. Mark Messier. Mike Richter. It’s about a history of greatness. It’s a lasting legacy. It’s not four years of brouhaha. Bring on the playoffs. History is on our side.
But if you want the cold hard facts —here they are. The Rangers are the most resilient team in the league. We lost our Hall of Fame goalie and guess what, we replaced him with the best backup goalie in the league. Cam Talbot is 13-3-3 since February 4. We lost Stralman, Pouliot, Richards, and one of my former favorites, Brian Boyle. These were all key players. But, we added Yandle and Sheppard and re-signed fan favorite, Mats Zuccarello. Vigneault has made some major adjustments following former coach, John Tortorella. He’s worked with young players like J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes and veterans like Rick Nash, who is currently second for most goals in the league.
The Rangers are one of three teams with 95 points. The only team with more points right now is Anaheim, and they’ve played three more games. We meet them Sunday at the Garden. That’s the matchup I’m waiting to see. The Islanders aren’t even on my radar.