The Rangers know exactly what is awaiting them.

For the first time this season, the Blueshirts travel to Long Island to face the Islanders at UBS Arena on Tuesday night in what will be yet another division game ahead of the playoffs.

Including Tuesday’s clash, the Rangers play three divisional games in their final four games.

The Islanders will be desperate, attempting to claw their way into the playoffs with a late-season surge.

They’ve won four in a row and are playing some of their best hockey of the year.

“I think it’ll be a good game [Tuesday],” Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette said after practice on Monday. “They’ll be ready to play. We know exactly where they’re sitting and what we’re in for. We gotta be ready to play and play a sharp game.”

If they do sneak into the postseason, the Rangers could very well face the Islanders in the first round, adding even more intrigue to their two remaining regular-season matchups.

For their own part, the Rangers are battling to finish first in both the division and conference and lock up home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

“I think we’re playing a lot of good teams here down the stretch that are playing for a playoff spot,” defenseman Jacob Trouba said on Monday. “It’s good for us to play meaningful hockey. Two rivals, it’s very exciting to play that intense of a game this late in the year.

“They’re fighting for a playoff spot, they want to get in. We want to keep playing well and [play] our game. Anytime these two teams get together, it’s a competitive, fun game. Looking forward to it.”


Laviolette had high praise for Jimmy Vesey, who skated on the first line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider during the Rangers’ 5-2 win over the Canadiens on Sunday night, as Jack Roslovic was a healthy scratch.

Vesey recorded an assist in 15:27, the most he’s played since Feb. 28.

He has featured up and down the lineup this year.

“I thought Jimmy played a heck of a game [Sunday] night,” Laviolette said. “The versatility of having him, to be able to jump up the lineup and take minutes. And yet, if I saw that there was a [defensive-]zone combo coming and line coming over the boards for the opposition, to be able to make a quick switch and throw him out there, that’s really valuable.”


Along with the Islanders, there is a plethora of teams the Rangers could face in the first round.

The Red Wings, Flyers, Penguins and Capitals are all in the mix in a wide-open race for the final spot — a race that will likely come right down to the wire.

But when asked if it was strange having such little idea who the Rangers might play, Laviolette expressed the opposite.

“I think it becomes a little more unique if you’re actually this far out still and you did know who you’re playing,” Laviolette said. “I would think this is more the norm.”

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