The New York Rangers at the Washington Capitals
Puck drop is slated for 7:00pm at the Verizon Center
League rules, based on the new CBA, clearly state that no skaters have been able to skate since December 23rd and players may not travel before December 27th.
The team arrived in Washington DC this morning at 9:00, as reported by the official twitter account. These two teams have already played each other twice and have split the meetings one each. In the last meeting between these two teams, the leagues’ top goal scorer was held pointless (pun may be intended). Alex Ovechkin did not score a goal and did not register an assists. The Rangers have learned to shut down Ovechkin well thus far; at elast going back to last years’ playoffs. The Rangers are returning from the holiday break hoping to keep the two game win streak going strong. Their 18-18-2 record gives the Rangers 38 points and has them in fourth place of the Metropolitan Division. A win tonight will propell the Rangers into third place and only two points behind the second place Capitals. The question now becomes, which goalie will we see on the ice? Clearly the team is on a roll with Cam Talbot in net, though Henrik Lundqvist is the noted goalie of the team. If I was a gambler, I’d bet on the lines staying the same from the last two games. The only change that seems possible is the return of Marc Staal, who is traveling with the team. His return to the line-up is not ruled out but is on a day to day/wait and see schedule. Brad Richards continues to lead the team in points with 26. Mats Zuccarello has tied Richards in assists with 17 and Carl Hagelin has tied Richards in goals with 9. There is a six point difference between Richards and the rest of the top five points producers on the team. Zuccarello (25), Derek Stepan (23), Chris Kreider (21), and Ryan McDonagh (20). Kreider continues to be the only Ranger with a plus rating, +9, and Hagelin is neutral with 0. All other players on the team are in the negative.Dan Girardi, John Moore, and Michael Del Zotto are hovering together with 8,7,7 points respectively. Girardi continues to lead the team in blocks and hits by a very wide margin. Brian Boyle is the closest active roster member to Girardi’s 93 hits with 70 of his own. Girardi’s 65 blocks have him ahead of McDonagh’s 57.
Although he leads the team in scoring, Alex Ovechkin does not lead his team in points; that distinction belongs to Nicklas Backstrom with 42. Backstrom has more assists with 33 than any player on the Rangers’ team has total points. Backstrom was also held scoreless in the previous meeting of these teams. The Capitals will bring their physical style of play to the ice with them, as they always do. Troy Brouwer leads the team with 104 hits, followed by Ovechkins’ 102 hits. Tom Wilson has 86 hits and Jason Chimera chips in with his 72 hits. The Capitals are also considerably prone to penalties. The Captials have 5 players with 38 minutes or more in the “sin bin” as compared to the Rangers’ one player over 38 minutes. Derek Dorsett has earned his 103 penalty minutes and may very well be busy tonight (he usually takes someone with him when he goes to the box). The Capitals are about as predictable with goalies as the Rangers. The announcement has not been made yet as to which goalie the Capitals will use; I hope it’s Holtby, we can rattle him easily.
Tonnight’s game in DC is officially sold out. Unless you find a season ticket holder willing to sell their seats you aren’t getting into the Verizon Center. I’ll be there and I’ll be tweeting live as much as I can so look for updates on twitter!