New York Rangers face the Washington Capitals at home.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm
Coach Vigneault stated that Henrik Lundqvist would be the starter for the affair with the Capitals after last night’s loss to the Devils. In 22 games this season, Lundqvist has over 1220 minutes of playing time in which he has faced 605 shots and blocked 554 of them. He boasts a .916 save percentage and 2.5 goals against average; he also has 2 shut outs. Brad Richards still leads the team in points (23) and goals (9), though Derek Stepan leads the team in assists (15). Following closely behind are Chris Kreider and Callahan with 7 goals each while Richards and Zuccarello have 14 assists each. Team leaders in hits are Dan Girardi (69), Ryan Callahan (65) Boyle (54). Please note that while Richards and Boyle have played in all 30 games this season, Callahan has appeared in only 22 games. Leading the team in blocks is Girardi (59), Ryan McDonagh (39), Marc Staal (31) each having played all 30 games. With no word on Staal’s condition after the hit in last’s nights game against the Devils, Boyle follows in line with 28 blocks. The Rangers are coming off of a tough loss to the Devils and are playing in a back to back game situation. The Rangers are 15-14-1 this season and 5-6-1 at home this season with 31 points which has them in third place in the Metropolitan Division; 8th in the Eastern Conference.
The Capitals presently have 2 players out with injuries. The Washington Post reports Michal Neuvirth is not expected to return this weekend despite practicing fully with the team on Firday. Brooks Laich is considered to be out indefinitely due to his recurring groin injury. The Rangers will most likely face Braden Holtby in goal tonight. Holtby has faced only 790 goals in his over 1349 minutes this season. He has blocked 729 of those shots for a .923 save percentage and 2.7 goals against average. In road games he has a .921 save percentage and 2.65 goals againt average. The Capitals are 15-12-2 on the season and 5-5-2 on the road totaling 32 points. The Capitals are just one place ahead of the Rangers in the Division and the Conference. Alexander Ovechkin leads the league in goals (22) and leads the team in points (31) while Nicklas Backstrom leads the team in assists (21). When playing on the road those stats shift greatly. Only eight of Ovechkin’s goals have been scored on the road; still the highest on the team. the team’s points leader on the road is Mikhail Grabovski with 13; eight of which are assists. Outside of Ovechkin, the team doesn’t score many goals, Joel Ward has nine goals followed by Grabovski with eight. Assists for the team are close with Grabovski and Marcus Johansson with 16 each. Other players to keep in mind are Jason Chimera and Troy Brouwer, who can be remembered for this hit on Stepan.
We all remember this hit on McDonagh in game seven against the Capitals last year in the post season. The Rangers have gotten their hits in as well, as seen here from Girardi and here from Callahan. Rest assured there will be a physical game against these two teams. With Boyle finding a more physical side to his game and Zuccarello being fearless there will not be any pushing tolerated. Add to the mix Justin Falk who will remain in the line-up in the absence of Staal, there will be physicality in this game. The Rangers also know that they will have to keep Ovechkin from scoring, a task which McDonagh is no stranger to being assigned. Also, as a personal observation, Holtby is weak against “5 hole” shots.