Rangers need one more win to break their franchise record of 52 regular season wins, previously set by the 1993-1994 team
- Time: 12:30 pm EST
- Location: Verizon Center- Washington, DC
- Where to watch/listen: MSG/WEPN 98.7
Game number 82 is here. After six months of grueling hockey, it all ends today.
Thankfully, the New York Rangers will not have to worry about winning, as much they have in previous seasons.
Having already clinched the Metropolitan Division and President’s Trophy earlier this month, the Rangers have the luxury of home-ice secured throughout the playoffs.
It will be comforting for the team knowing that each round will start in their building, and not have to be “road warriors” again.
Today is an early matinee meeting with their Metropolitan rival Washington Capitals. This will mark the fourth time both teams have faced each other this season.
The Rangers lead the season series 2-1, taking the first two games. However, the Capitals got the better of the Rangers winning 5-2 at Madison Square Garden on March 29th.
Both teams have clinched playoffs spots for this year’s postseason.
New York Rangers
(52-22-7 with 111 points, President’s Trophy and Metropolitan Division Champions)
Coming off a 3-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, the Rangers travel to the nation’s capital with little more to accomplish, in terms of the playoffs. They have assured themselves the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.
However, there is a little bit of franchise history on the line.
With a win today, the Rangers will set the franchise record in wins in a regular season with 53. The team is currently tied with the 1993-1994 Stanley Cup Champion Rangers.
(45-25-11 with 101 points, second place in the Metropolitan Division, clinched playoff berth)
For the Capitals, the same could be said as far as little to play for. They already punched their playoff ticket, but today means a little more for Washington.
Home-ice in the opening round for the Capitals could be determined. As of now, they are one point ahead of the New York Islanders for second-place in the division.
Both teams play tomorrow.
The Capitals determine their own fate. Win against the Rangers, home-ice is assured. However, if they lose and the Islanders win, then the teams flip-flop in the final standings and they will be traveling to Long Island.
Which goalie will start for both teams? That is the question.
Rangers fans let out a collective gasp on Thursday, when they saw Henrik Lundqvist rolling on the ice in pain. Against the 3-0 loss to the Senators, Lundqvist’s leg was accidentally landed on by Mika Zibanejad in the first period. He was ok and commented afterwards that everything was good-to-go.
Today, Lundqvist could win his 30th game of the season. That would give him nine out of 10 seasons with 30 or more regular season wins. The only other time he did not reach the 30-win milestone was after the lockout-shortened season of 2012-2013, where he won 24 games.
Against the Capitals for his career, Lundqvist is 17-8-3, save percentage of .909, a 2.53 GAA, and four shutouts.
If head coach Alain Vigneault elects to play it safe and protect the team’s number one goalie, then we could see Cam Talbot enter the picture. He was in net last time the Rangers and Capitals got together. Talbot loss 5-2, making 26 saves.
However, Talbot was the starting goalie the last time the Rangers visited the Verizon Center. In that game, he made 28 saves, including ones on Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom, which helped lead the team to a 3-1 victory.
For his career, Talbot is 1-2 versus the Capitals with a save percentage of .914 and a GAA of 2.70.
Holtby would be making his 72nd start of the season. In three games against the Rangers, he is 1-2 with a 3.05 GAA this season. Last time he met the Rangers, he made 23 saves on way to a 5-2 win in New York.
For his career, Holtby is 3-5-1 in 10 games against the Rangers with a save percentage of .928 and a 2.26 GAA.
If not Holtby, backup Justin Peters may get the call. In his career, Peters is 0-1 with a 3.85 GAA in two games against the Rangers.
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