Ryan Strome began to think about going back to the Coliseum, and looking around in his Rangers locker room for someone he could remember, he could hardly find anyone who even knew what he was talking about.
That's because Strome and his blues shirts will travel to Long Island with such a young and different club on Thursday night to play the second game of this unusual three-game game. Forget the last time the Rangers actually did the hike through the Midtown Tunnel on LÜGE and the Meadowbrook Parkway. That was a long time ago on March 10, 2015, when Strome was with the Islanders and actually assisted Anders Lee's goal before the Rangers came back for a 2-1 win in Rick Nash's third game period.
"It's kind of crazy, isn't it? A lot has happened for both teams," said Strome, before his team won the season's opening volley with a 6-2 win in the garden on Monday night.
It was a fast-paced affair dominated by Panarin, and hostility rose and culminated in a handful of brawls towards the end of the game. (Sure, Tony DeAngelo will play angry on Thursday.) However, it took so long for these teams to get to know each other, as the only current Rangers who have ever played a game in the Coliseum are Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal, Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast.
“I said to Staalsy and Kreids: 'We play in the coli, how unreal is that? & # 39; Then I looked around and said, 'I don't think any of these guys ever played in the Coliseum. & # 39; & # 39 ;, said Strome, who was ranked No. 5 overall by the islanders in 2011. Before spending 100 games in Edmonton and a trade earlier in the season that led him to do so, he played parts of four seasons with them on Broadway.
"The teams have changed so much," he said. "The rivalry will always be there, but I think it's a little more heated for the guys who have been around a bit longer."
As much as the Rangers have changed since the start of their reconstruction when they sent their letter to the fans on February 8, 2018, the transformation of the islanders was so dramatic. They have stability in their possession and are on their way to a new arena in Belmont Park, which is planned for the 2021-22 season. You have stability in the front office while team president Lou Lamoriello acts with an iron fist. And they have stability behind the bench in Stanley Cup winner Barry Despite.
This is a far cry from the buddy club that skated and hoped to leave its opponents behind for years. They're a real competitor this spring if they can use even more offensive firepower, but they were angry with the sloppy way they played on Monday and made the game an encounter that favored the highly skilled blues shirts.
The likelihood that this will happen again on Thursday is very low. The islanders were able to prevail against the low red wings in the Colosseum on Tuesday evening, while the rangers had a day off before returning to training on Wednesday. The third game of the set is in the garden next Tuesday, and by then the rivalry should resume, no matter how different the teams from previous years have been.
"There are two teams fighting for valuable points and two competing teams," said Rangers coach David Quinn, while his club is desperately sticking to their hopes for the postseason. "We have a lot of respect for these guys."
It could be a little unruly Thursday in the stands – or redesigned? – Colosseum, where the rivalry lives on the ice with far more procrastination than the rosters.
"I think especially if I go back to the coli this week it will be pretty great," said Strome. "It will be crazy."
You can find more information about the Rangers in the latest episode of the podcast "Up In The Blue Seats":