One team comes into tomorrow night's matchup at The Garden on an 18-13-5 run since the teams last played, on Dec. 27. The other is 15-16-2 since then.
The Rangers, of course, are the team that's under .500 since their 7-2 shelling of the Isles just after Christmas and the Islanders have put things together somewhat since then. But it's the Rangers who are in eighth and the Isles, despite their improving play, who sit tied for 13th, 11 points back.
"They'll certainly want to knock us down a few pegs, given the rivalry and where we are," Marc Staal said. "Obviously, we'll be desperate. I don't think who we play or how they're playing changes what we need to do."
Brandon Prust sat out today's practice with an assortment of nagging ailments. John Tortorella wouldn't commit to a lineup for tomorrow, but did say Prust has been able to play through his aches and pains. Sean Avery, who skated with Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello today, could be scratched for a second straight game if Prust can go.