Rangers Get Set To Do Battle In The Nation’s Capital
The Rangers look to continue their winning streak as they take on the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena tonight at 7 PM. The Blueshirts enter this one coming off two solid wins against the Hurricanes and the Penguins, while Washington has won six of their last seven games. The Capitals sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division, while the Rangers sit in sixth. Both teams are separated by three points in the playoff race.
Keys to Victory
Secondary Scoring – Boo Nieves scored his first NHL goal after a nice feed from Mats Zuccarello, along with Jesper Fast netting one against Pittsburgh showing how secondary scoring can win you a game in the right spots. The Rangers need more of this secondary scoring from it’s bottom six forward group in order to keep up with a very deep Washington squad. Whether it’s Nieves, Fast, Carey or Grabner, the Rangers need to find ways to score outside of their top tier forwards in order to stay in the game tonight.
Fighting back – Just 90 seconds after Connor Sheary gave the Penguins the lead in the first, Boo Nieves launched his first career goal against Tristan Jarry, keeping the Rangers in it. With his goal, the Rangers started going against a recent trend of games where the Blueshirts would be down early and have little to zero response. The Rangers need to keep that same fight and possibly even take the lead early to give themselves a solid chance to beat Ovechkin and the Caps.
Goaltending – Filling in for a flu-stricken Henrik Lundqvist, Ondrej Pavelec performed admirably versus the Penguins, stopping 41 out of the 44 shots from a persistent Pittsburgh offense. Lundqvist will need to have a similar performance in order to give his team a chance in this one.
Power Play – The Rangers power play went 0 for 2 during their game against the Penguins. The Capitals rank 20th overall in PK percentage (78.8 percent) while the Rangers rank 9th overall on the Power Play (21.5 percent). Having shown stretches of pure dominance on the power play this season, the Rangers need to tap into that again to give themselves an advantage, at least on paper, over the Capitals.
Players to Watch
New York Rangers
Zuccarello was named the first star in the win versus Pittsburgh, scoring a goal and an assist on Boo Nieves’ first NHL goal. He currently is tied for the team in points with 22 and leads the team with 17 assists. Zuccarello always puts his best effort on the ice when it matters, so look for him to make an impact in a must-win game for the Rangers.
Make no mistake about it, Jesper Fast is a key cog in the Rangers lineup. Since his return from hip surgery, Fast has made the Rangers a more cohesive unit, playing his usual defensive game and becoming one of the more reliable forwards the Rangers boast at the moment. Not long after Phil Kessel scored for Pittsburgh, Jesper Fast lit the lamp at 12:26 of the second period to tie the game at two. Look for Fast to be a noticeable presence, as he continues to play well and show up on the score sheet for the Rangers.
You can’t think of the Capitals nowadays without thinking of Alexander Ovechkin. Fresh off of a four-point night with a goal and three assists, Ovechkin currently leads the Caps in points with 32 and in goals with 21. You cannot miss him when he’s on the ice as he is a dominant presence on the ice. Look for him to try and make an impact against the Rangers 5 on 5 as well as on the Power Play. The Rangers need to contain him, like they did Sidney Crosby, in order to increase their chances of winning.
As always, part of the Capitals recent successes comes from between the pipes, as Braden Holtby continues to backstop the Capitals to multiple winning seasons. And this year is no exception. Currently, Holtby boasts a 15-6 record with a team-leading 2.60 GAA and a solid .921 SV%.
Why This Game Matters
Why does this game matter, you say? As mentioned above, the Rangers and Capitals are three points separated in the Metropolitan Division. Currently, from the top spot to the position the Rangers are currently in, the separation in points is only six. The Metro is a very tightly wound, competitive division, and any ground gained will be beneficial to the Rangers. After their poor start, the Rangers will need every point they can get to stay close in the race.
Puck drops at 7!
LETS GO RANGERS!