Metro Broadcast Added for Tuesday
If Isles Win, They're In (7pm)
Rangers at Islanders (METRO, MSG, ESPN 1050 AM)
By Corey Witt
(April 1) The 2003 playoff hopes for both New York squads hinge on
tonight's game, the finale of the season series. It's been awhile that
an Islander-Ranger game has had this much meaning in April, and with
that in mind, this game is another of the "must-win" variety for the
The meeting between the cross-town rivals wouldn't hold as much
meaning if it weren't for the recent slump by the Islanders. While
coming off two disheartening losses to Toronto and New Jersey, Peter
Laviolette feels his team will be up for the challenge against the
"It wasn't a good performance from us, from the drop of the puck to
the final whistle," said Laviolette about Sunday. "But there's too
much on the line to still be thinking about it. We woke up this
morning (Monday) and started to concentrate on the next one. We moved
past the Devils game and our minds are set on the Rangers. We got to
take the anger we have from our last game and bring it over to Tuesday
"I believe in my team. I believe in the players inside the room. I
believe that we will show up and fight hard."
Captain Michael Peca couldn't agree more: "We're all disappointed in
our effort in the last two games. It's going to be a big game for both
teams and whoever wants it more will come out on top with two-points.
But I'm sure we'll come out on top.
"We all want the same thing and you can see it in everyone's eyes.
It's the biggest game of the year and everyone knows it. Everyone
wants to win it and get into the playoffs. This is a game we need to
While some might expect a gloomy atmosphere surrounding the team,
there simple is not. In fact, everyone inside the Isles' lockerroom is
up-beat and ready for the crucial meeting between the two New York clubs.
"It was a good practice today," forward Aaron Asham said on Monday
afternoon from the Islanders' practice facility in Syosset. "There was
energy out there (on the ice) and everyone is excited for [tonight's]
Adrian Aucoin added by saying: "I thought we had a really good
practice. We're all ready for a battle. There were some meetings and a
lot of good things were said. There's not much more you can say about
it, we're ready for a very important game."
One aspect of the game that fans should keep an eye on is the physical
side. While the season series demonstrated tempered physical play and
zero fighting in the first few games, the physical action is expected
to be at a fever pitch tonight.
"We're going to have to play a smart hockey game, so we'll have to be
careful on what we do during the game," Jason Wiemer pointed out.
"Obviously, there will be a physical presence from both teams, we just
have to avoid being too aggressive and taking undisciplined penalties.
We can't give them too many power plays; they're too talented to be
given that. We just have to focus on what we want to do."
Asham said: "Being physical during a game is a part of both teams'
game plans. Both squads are going to be pumped up for the game, so I'm
sure there will be plenty of emotion. I know that we're going to be
fired up. It's going to be interesting to see how the game plays out."
All fans in attendance will receive the final rivalry rally towel of
the season. Tonight's is courtesy of Lightpath.
Islanders fans sick about the possibility of not being able to hear
Howie and Joe call tonight's Islanders-Rangers tilt from the Coliseum
can rest a little easier. An "Islanders" broadcast of Tuesday night's
game, featuring Howie Rose and Joe Micheletti, has been added to the
MSG Network will be the only place for a pre-game show tomorrow at
6:30, but the Islanders will be prominently featured, including a
pre-game interview with Peter Laviolette. Metro's broadcast will start
at 7:00. The between-periods interviews will be shared by Metro and
MSG Network. The most important thing, however, is that Howie will do
the play-by-play and Joe will handle the color on Metro for Islander
fans looking for an Islander angle.
What Tonight Means (7pm)
Rangers at Islanders (METRO, MSG, ESPN 1050 AM)
By Kerry Gwydir
(April 1) Courtesy of Fox Sports New York's Eric Hornick, here is the
nitty-gritty about this battle:
The Isles will clinch a playoff spot with any kind of victory tonight.
A regulation win would take care of the four points on the magic
number. The Islanders would have 82 and the most the Rangers could get
An overtime win would still eliminate the Rangers. Peter Laviolette's
team would have 35 wins and 82 points and the most the Rangers could
get would be 34 wins and 82 points. The OT loss by the Rangers and the
tie by Boston against Tampa last night have swung the tie-breakers
against both teams in the Islanders' favor, despite both Boston and
the Rangers winning the season series tie-break.
There hasn't been this much excitement swirling around New York hockey
in a long, long time. Give credit to the Rangers for getting back in
the race as they've closed the gap between them and the Islanders to
three points for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Yet, they lost a critical point to the non-playoff bound Atlanta
Thrashers last night by a 4-3 overtime decision. The Rangers came back
twice, from a 2-0 deficit then got a Petr Nedved goal late to answer
Marc Savard's man-up tally deep in the third.
The bottom line is that the Rangers have lost three important points
in their last three contests. They dropped a 3-1 decision to
cellar-dwelling Pittsburgh last week, bounced back to get a victory in
Boston on Saturday and obtained the overtime loss point last night.
The Blueshirts' league-worst home penalty kill did them in again last
night by allowing the Thrashers' third and fourth tallies. On the
road, their PK is 15th in the NHL at just over 83 percent.
Back-to-back games haven't been pretty for the Rangers this season,
either. On the second end of a back-to-back set this season, Glen
Sather's team is a lowly 1-7-2-0. The Rangers have another
back-to-back set upcoming - they play the Devils on Friday before
heading to Montreal on Saturday.
Can Isles Come Up With KO?
A victory over Rangers will turn out the lights
By Alan Hahn
April 1, 2003
The alarm sounded for the Islanders when they got their bell rung
Sunday afternoon by the Devils, 6-0. How will they answer it?
The Islanders face their biggest test tonight since losing Game 7 to
the Toronto Maple Leafs in last season's first-round playoff series.
They play the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum with the final playoff spot
in the East still up for grabs.
The Rangers, who earned a point in last night's 4-3 overtime loss to
the Thrashers, trail the Islanders by three points for the final spot.
After tonight, the Rangers have two games, the Islanders three. If the
Isles win tonight, the Rangers cannot catch them.
Will the Islanders put together consecutive playoff seasons for the
first time since 1993 and '94? "I believe in the players in the room,"
second-year coach Peter Laviolette said yesterday after practice. "I
believe in our team. I think they'll respond."
Statistics suggest he might be right. This season the Islanders are
6-0-1 after getting shut out. But the last two times they have played
the Rangers, the Islanders haven't been able to extend their lead in
the playoff chase. The Rangers won the last meeting, 1-0, on March 17.
The teams played a 1-1 tie March 3.
Tonight's game is the Islanders' third and final chance to deliver a
knockout punch to the Rangers' playoff hopes. "The difference between
winning and losing teams," defenseman Adrian Aucoin said, "is winning
teams are ready to play big games."
Aucoin, one of several key Islanders who haven't played their best
hockey during the past few weeks, said he'll be present and accounted
for tonight. So did captain Michael Peca, who said it's "gotta start
with me" when he talked about how players were "challenging ourselves"
in a meeting.
There's also goalie Garth Snow, who two weeks ago was called a cheater
by Rangers coach Glen Sather, who publicly alleged Snow was using
illegal equipment. Then last week Islanders general manager Mike
Milbury challenged the veteran goalie to "show me your stuff." Snow, a
33-year-old journeyman, said: "I want to see it, too."
There was plenty of such motivational talk yesterday, along with
questions of why the Islanders played so poorly Sunday at such a
critical time of the season, and how to fix it. "Win a game," Peca
"I think we know when we play the way we can, we can beat any team in
the league," Aucoin said. Now is the time to prove it.
Notes & Quotes: Defenseman Kenny Jonsson did not practice and the team
has used "post-traumatic migraine" to describe his condition after a
big hit he took early in Sunday's game. Team spokeswoman Jamie Fabos
said team doctors insist the injury is "not a concussion." . . . An
Islanders broadcast on Metro was added for tonight.
TV: MSG, Metro
Radio: WFAN (660),
SKIDDING ISLES KNOW
IT'S NOW OR NEVER
By EVAN GROSSMAN
April 1, 2003 -- They want to hurt each other, the Islanders and
Rangers do. And tonight they fight for their playoff lives in a
head-to-head, four-point battle for the final playoff spot in the East
with just six days left in the regular season.
The climactic regular season finale of the greatest rivalry in hockey
carries its heaviest postseason implications in years, while either
the Isles or the Blueshirts - one and not the other - will qualify for
the tournament at week's end. After tonight, the Islanders will have
three more games remaining against the Rangers' two, but nobody's
thinking a minute past the drop of the puck this evening at the Coliseum.
"All we're concerned about is one game," Michael Peca said, coming off
what he called the most embarrassing one of his professional life, a
6-0 loss Sunday to the Devils.
So a call to arms was issued within the Islanders' locker room before
yesterday's practice. Peca had said that his team needed to get plenty
ticked off after their latest loss and second in a row, that they
needed a dramatic change in attitude. And it was evident yesterday
that the No. 8 Isles were prepared to get medieval on the No. 9
Rangers tonight because their season greatly depends on it.
"Our success almost always relies on our excitement," Peter Laviolette
said, facing the biggest game in his Islander tenure since last year's
"One of the things that should drive you to be a great team is the
fear of letting your teammates down," Peca said. "You want to be
accountable and you want to make sure you're playing for your
teammates. And I think [tonight] will be a telltale sign of what kind
of team we really are."
Nobody's really certain what kind of team these Islanders are,
sometimes playing with reckless abandon, and other times crawling into
a shell in the face of adversity. Sometimes they come out flying and
sometimes they're flat and put up little to no fight. All these things
were addressed in yesterday's team meeting.
"I believe in the players in the room. I believe in our team and I
think we'll respond," Laviolette said.
And if they don't, calamity will truly set in.
Kenny Jonsson's participation will be a game-time decision after he
suffered another case of "post-traumatic migraine" headaches, which
can be initiated by any head or neck injury, such as whiplash or a
blow to the head.
Defeat leaves Isles
talking to themselves
By PETER BOTTE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
The bus ride home Sunday from New Jersey was extremely quiet, Adrian
Aucoin said, mostly because the Islanders' pathetic performance
earlier in the day left everyone speechless.
The Isles had far more to say to each other yesterday, as they aired
out their issues in a team meeting before a spirited practice to
prepare for tonight's monumental home game against the Rangers.
But words won't mean much tonight at Nassau Coliseum, in what could
amount to a playoff clincher (depending on the Rangers' result last
night) or a continuing collapse as the Isles desperately cling to the
final playoff position in the East.
"The difference between winning and losing teams is that winning teams
are ready to play the big games and losing teams are a little timid or
afraid of the battle," said Aucoin, one of the Isles' alternate captains.
"Obviously, it's been one of those years we've had some bad games, and
when that happens, you might doubt yourself. But we know if we play
the way we can, we can beat any team in this league."
The team they have to defeat tonight is the ninth-place Rangers, which
the Isles know will not be accomplished with a repeat of Sunday's 6-0
blowout loss in Jersey.
"We can't dwell on it for the rest of the year," Peter Laviolette
said. "The thing that should be on our mind right now is we can take
the anger with us... and try to use that (tonight)."
Among those who spoke during yesterday's meeting were Aucoin, Jason
Wiemer and captain Michael Peca, who called out his teammates
following Sunday's "embarrassment."
"Questions needed to be answered and the biggest is why we allowed
ourselves to play that way. Today we think we figured some of those
things out," Peca said.
Added Laviolette: "I believe in the players in the room and in our
team. And I think we'll respond... I think actions will speak much
louder than words."
Gearing up:: Goalie Garth Snow won't be surprised if Rangers GM/coach
Glen Sather asks the NHL equipment police to inspect his gear once
again. "I think it's so obvious what he's trying to do, having me
checked and then planting stories to make a big deal out of it. I'm
not worried about it," Snow said.