It’s no secret that the Islanders and Rangers have a deep rooted rivalry that has been going on for what feels like forever.
The two New York teams constantly battle, being so close to one another. The drive from Madison Square Garden to USB Arena is only around 45 minutes, making it easy for both fan bases to show up to these aggressive games.
The teams’ last meeting was on December 22, 2022, where the Rangers were victorious with a final score of 5-3.
This rivalry was first established in the late 1970’s when the NHL added another team to the metropolitan area. With the start of the World Hockey Association (WHA) the New York Raiders played in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The NHL didn’t want to have two franchises in the largest metro area in the nation, so they awarded a franchise to Atlanta, which ended up not working out.
The Islanders were able to establish their franchise in 1972, and have played in five Stanley Cup Finals games, and have won four Stanley Cups since.
The Rangers and Islanders played each other in the 1978-79 semifinals game, where the Rangers took game 1, the Islanders then tied it up, then the Rangers also took game 3, and once again, the Islanders caught up and won game 4. The Rangers then won games 5 and 6, which allowed them to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Montreal Canadiens where they lost.
Courtesy of Stan Fischler/NHL
The rivalry between the two teams paused for a moment in the 2000’s, when the Islanders made four playoff appearances, and the Rangers made none for eight straight years. The Rangers were able to get out of this slump in 2007-08 due to help from recently signed All-Star player Jaromir Jagr, and Henrik Lundqvist.
The Islanders officially began to split games between the Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center in the 2018-19 season while their new permanent arena (UBS) was being built. The arena was completed in 2021, and is right outside of New York City.
The two teams played six times in the most recent season, one being in the pre-season. They each won three of the six games. Fans could argue that the Rangers are “better” due to them having more combined goals during these intense games.
Courtesy of Dave/BlueSeatBlogs
It was recently announced that the Islanders and Rangers will be facing off in a Stadium Series hosted by MetLife Stadium. This is projected to take place in February, most likely the 17th-18th, 2024. MetLife Stadium, located in East Rutherford, NJ is the home to both the NY Giants and NY Jets, and has never hosted an outdoor NHL game. There will also be another game being played during this series too. The NJ Devils and Philadelphia Flyers will also be playing each other.
This isn’t the Rangers and Islanders first rodeo at a Stadium Series. The teams played in 2014 at Yankee Stadium, where the Rangers won 2-1.
The Rangers also recorded two wins during the Winter Classic. One was against the Flyers where they won 3-2 at Citizens Bank Park in 2012, and the other was against The Buffalo Sabres where they won 3-2 in overtime at Citi Field in 2018.
The Rangers currently have a 4-0 record in outdoor games. Will they be able to raise this record, or will they fail under the pressure?