If you ask an average fan to describe the Rangers' identity, they may simply point to a picture of Artemi Panarin – which is understandable. But that's not all.
At least not everything.
Because although Panarin's recent killing spree, in which he has collected 12 points (4-8) in the last three (yes, three) games, brought him to fourth place in the Art Ross race with 67 points (26-41), The Rangers more than admired its five-point breakout in the Islanders at the Garden's 6-2 loss on Monday.
The blueshirts were on top of the puck, were strong in duels, were in the lead, played a lot under the offensive zone hash marks and exerted quite a good pressure in the neutral zone. They struck back and struck first. Indeed, Monday was one of the club's most complete accomplishments this season, confirming the template for what this young, generally finesse-oriented team needs as a factor in the playoff race.
In three of their last four games, the blueshirts have shown more of this approach and mentality on a more consistent basis. That is the identity that David Quinn and the coaching staff are trying to promote within the group.
"I think we have to be a puck pressure team, I think we have to make teams uncomfortable because we are not an overly large team and I think we have to keep teams out of their structure," said Quinn. "I think we will get there. We are not where we need to be, but I think we have made some progress in this area.
"There are only so many things that you can train and you have to train your team on its strengths and identity. I think this is how we will succeed. It took some time, but I think some of it is up to us ,
"Sometimes you can try to train too much to talk about the other team, but I think the more you can focus on a few things for the team and talk about it and demand it, the better they get."
It will take more of the same for the blues shirts to prevail against a team of islanders who left Manhattan on Thursday's rematch at the Coliseum. In fact, it will take more than just the same. This is not just about the pride of the islanders, who are not too far from taking a wildcard position, and who have not taken for granted after six wins in the playoffs, the last 14 games (6-6-2).
"They know that they were not happy with their effort [Monday]Marc Staal said. "We have to prepare for a completely different opponent. You will be much better. But it will be fun to go back there. It is one of my favorite places to play. "
The last Rangers Islanders game at the Coliseum, which took place on March 10, 2015, at the time when there was reason to believe that the last battle of New York would ever be fought in the old barn. The blueshirts won 2-1 Rick Nash's early goal in the third round, which was deflected by then-resident Ryan Strome after the Rangers targeted Kevin Hayes' striking goal in the middle of the second round , was an outlier.
Staal, Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast are the only remaining Rangers who have dressed for it. Henrik Lundqvist was still recovering from the vascular injury he suffered in late January, and Mackenzie Skapski secured Cam Talbot. Lundqvist will support Alex Georgiev for this title, with the Rangers falling 40th because of his work against the islanders in the past two years (3-1, .957, 1.21) and not serving as a showcase before the deadline.
"We have people who haven't played against half of the league yet," Kreider said of the return to Long Island. "It's a great experience. Playing there. It's always fun."
Monday was thoroughly controversial. There were two fights in the first section and two confrontations in the third. There is no reason to believe that this will be different. The islanders will try to maintain their structure. The rangers will try to identify themselves.
You can find more information about the Rangers in the latest episode of the podcast "Up In The Blue Seats":