Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Hey Ted, how about those Rangers"?

Flipping around the dial on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I came across an interview exchange that was so familiar to us in Islanders Country.

Sideline reporter Alex Flanagan of NBC had a quick hit with Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio just before the Spartans' kickoff yesterday in South Bend. These quick hits - like you see Deb Kaufman do with our assistant coaches between-periods - usually allow for just one question and maybe a followup. So of all the things Ms. Flanagan could have asked the Michigan State coach about his 3-0 team, she asked the following:

"Coach, what do you think Notre Dame's mindset is going into this game"?

This is exactly the sort of silliness Islanders coaches and players are faced with every time we play the Rangers.

Dantonio could not believe the question and did a poor job of hiding his digust. He shook his head, took a deep breath and said, "I don't care what their mindset is. I only care about the Spartans."

Mike Milbury was the Islanders coach for about two minutes when he got his welcome from the Rangers, I mean, New York media. You may remember it. His answer was "__________ the Rangers, _________ the Devils." If you ever wondered why Mike would have that reaction, that's because the second question he was asked at his introductory press conference was not "What do the Islanders need to get better," "Who's your starting goalie" or even "How excited are you that Alexander Semak and Niklas Andersson are on your first line"?

No, the second question asked to Milbury was, "How do you feel about going up against the Rangers"?

I mean, could that one have waited until, like, the eighth question?

Ah, what are you gonna do? That's life in New York. I certainly don't mean to paint everyone with a broad brush. And it's not nearly as bad as it used to be. Some of our most supportive members of the New York media are probably those you'd least expect.

I do get a chuckle, however, when there's this talk of the Islanders-Rangers games meaning more to one team than the other. Another reason why it's impossible to not respect Tom Renney: last season the Rangers were still in their playoff slump and the Islanders had the better part of the first four matchups with the Blueshirts. A reporter threw out the theory that the games meant more to the Islanders. Renney responded, "Well, it's looked that way and it's time we changed our approach." And they did.

Can't believe the Coliseum is hosting a hockey game tomorrow night. History shows the Islanders will play a good portion of their NHL lineup since it's the team's only home game. Two days ago I would have predicted the Rangers would have sat a lot of regulars, but since they struggled to find chemistry on their top lines in their 5-0 home loss to the Flyers on Saturday, maybe we'll see Drury and Gomez. Either way, should be a blast.

There's also a good chance the Islanders will be down to around 30 players by puck-drop.

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