The old adage says that you can’t win them all – unless you are the New York islanders playing the New York Rangers.  The Blueshirts cousins’ from Long Island have won all three meeting this season – each of them one-goal games.  The Islanders raised their record in one-goal games to 8-3 while the Rangers’ record in one-goal games is 4-5.

It is most interesting and, for Ranger fans, most disconcerting the way the Islanders manager to raise their level of play when they face the Rangers.  It seems that the Islanders continue to carry a chip on their shoulders whenever they face the Rangers.

In a deeper sense, the Rangers-Islanders matchup parallels that of boxing.  It is often said that styles make up classic boxing matches and in this case the Islanders style (as well as they chip on their shoulders) gives the Rangers fits.  The Isles aggressive forecheck and attention to detail is proving to be the bane of the Rangers’ existence.

“We allowed them to play their game,” Brendan Shanahan told Steve Zipay of Newsday.  “I don’t think the smarts were there tonight.  We were all on our own page…You watch us, it’s a bunch of guys skating in circles.

Of course, it doesn’t help that the Rangers power play continues to misfire at the most inopportune times.  The Blueshirts continue to overpass on the power play looking for the perfect shot rather than station a forward in front and look to cause some confusion in front of the net.  Considering the fact the Rangers last five goals have been scored by defensemen, perhaps Tom Renney should put five blueliners on the power play!

Their perimeter play on the power play is also a problem at times at even strength.  Far too many times Ranger forwards are willing to pull up, or curl, once they hit the blue rather than drive to the net, shoot the puck or even work the puck deep into the offensive zone.  In turn, this allows an opponent an easier clearing attempt or counterattack while limiting the Rangers ability to forecheck.

Last night showed the down side of Sean Avery’s game.  He is like the little girl with the curls – when he is good he is good, but when he is bad he is bad.  Avery’s impact on the Rangers lineup is beyond reproach.  However, last night we saw a glimpse of the “detriment” that Glen Sather and the Rangers argued during their arbitration case against Avery.  His eight minutes in penalties (including a double minor) hurt the team.  Avery has to walk that fine line between stirring the pot and taking bad penalties.

One Ranger who better have his head on a swivel is Marcel Hossa.  Last night he was caught out of position on both Rangers goals.  With Ryan Callahan and Martin Straka getting closer to returning, it is going to be more and more difficult for Renney to find a place for Hossa in the lineup.  With the Rangers committed to playing solid defense, the need is for an offensive forward as opposed to a defensive forward – especially if said defensive forward is going to get caught napping.

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