Rangers center Mika Zibanejad is checked by Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech...

Rangers center Mika Zibanejad is checked by Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech and left wing Matt Martin in the third period of an NHL game at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 8, 2022. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Rangers, Islanders and Devils all are in the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2007, the second time since 1994 and the fourth time ever.

Four ESPN analysts – all with ties to one or more of those teams – said on Thursday that that is good not only for the teams themselves but for the league and sport.

“I think it's awesome,” Kevin Weekes, a goaltender who played for all three teams, said on a video news conference in response to a question from Newsday.

“It’s great for the sport and the biggest market in our league. I think it's incredible to have all three teams. Having played for all three of them, they're all very different and all unique – different experience, different fans, different history.

“But one thing is for sure, in metro New York, it's a very unique market unlike any other one in the world. For all three of the teams to earn their right to compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is huge.”

AJ Mleczko, an Islanders analyst for MSG Networks, added, “If I'm a hockey fan, not even necessarily a fan of one of these teams, but if I'm a hockey fan and I'm living in that area, you could go in person to watch incredible hockey every night for the next 10 days or whatever it is.

“I think it's fantastic for the sport but also just for the area, a huge marketplace, and I'm looking forward to decompress it.”

Ray Ferraro, who played for the Islanders and Rangers, said, “All three teams in, it draws eyes, it draws interest, and it's really good for the NHL.”

Mark Messier, who led the Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup, said he agreed with Ferraro’s take on the import of the three teams making it.

He also identified distinct story lines for each.

“It’s all going to be about the changing of the nucleus of the core group in New York [with the Rangers] and if they can bring it together,” he said, “and, of course, the Devils’ inexperience, and the Islanders’ [lack of] scoring.”

Weekes and Mleczko noted the Islanders’ late entry into the field in Game No. 82, when they beat the Canadiens, 4-2, at UBS Arena on Wednesday night

“For the Islanders to get in the way they did is incredible,” Weekes said. “You want to talk good drama, I'm getting goosebumps talking about it and none of us are even on the ice, so props to them.

“They have an amazing goalie in [Ilya] Sorokin. He is everything everybody thought he would be and more, talking to people back in the KHL when he was playing there. He's been the backbone of their team.

“We know they're not the most dynamic offensive team, but they play as a collective unit. Props to them.”

Ferraro added, “I think the Islanders are going to be a colossal pain for whatever team ends up playing them. They don't give up much, they are big, they play physically and have a great goalie.

“Can they score enough? Clearly, that's been the question all year or most of the year, and it will be in the first round.”

As for the Rangers, Ferraro called them a “super-fascinating team” based on the big names they already had and the ones they added.

“The Rangers are either, it's going to work or it's not,” he said.

Weekes said having the Rangers in the mix is good in hockey terms, and beyond.

“When you have playoff hockey at the world's most famous arena, you can't put a price on that,” he said. “For eyeballs and for fan engagement, for our corporate partners, I think it's great for everybody involved.”

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