Rangers “elect” to emphasize size on defense against bigger Caps

Girardi v Ovechkin...again (Getty)

Girardi v Ovechkin…again (Getty)

It’s election day! No, you don’t get to vote for Donald Trump’s hair or Hillary Clinton’s suit pants just yet, but you get to watch hockey. Dan Girardi looks set to return to his top pairing spot with Ryan McDonagh against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. While this may seem like bad news to fancy stats hockey bloggers and some of their followers, it is even worse news to Ovechkin who is practically mauled and suffocated every time he see #5 on the ice.

Alain Vigneault also stated yesterday after practice that Dylan McIlrath will likely make his return to the lineup. I guess he doesn’t want to see Tom Wilson running around hitting everyone of his players in sight with at least the remote possibility for retribution. Dan Boyle who skated as the extra defender at practice will be the one to sit if McIlrath is officially inserted tonight. Doesn’t hurt to give the 40 year old the occasional night off either.

And in goal….#30….HEN-RIK LUND-QVIST!

That’s just so much fun to say. Henrik Lundqvist is coming into action tonight on 3+ days rest. His numbers in 2 games so far this year after a long layoff are pretty good.

2-0, 1.00 GAA, .967 SV%

Lundqvist hasn’t been confirmed yet, and neither has Braden Holtby for the Washington Capitals but it’s pretty obvious they’re getting the nod in a battle for 1st place.

Yep, we are only in November but this is a big contest for both clubs as they look to make a statement in the Metro Division. Each team has 16 points, but the Caps have played 1 less game then the Rangers. Both teams are winners of their last 2, with the Caps going a formidable 8-2 in their last 10 games.

All eyes will be on Alex Ovechkin, but he will likely be well covered by Girardi and/or McDonagh for most of the night. Ovi has 12 points in 9 games but there’s another Russian in Washington lighting the team on fire…Evgeny Kuznetsov. The young forward has 13 points in 10 contests and will eat you alive if you double up on Ovi.

Just look at this OT winner where he fakes a drop pass to Ovechkin and freezes the defense before waltzing in for the score.

That’s just scary but gives further credence as to why Girardi is back in his usual spot to go one on one against Ovechkin.

So tonight, the Rangers will need a complete team effort on defense and more scoring from #20, Chris Kreider. He’s the Ranger that can be the difference maker tonight, especially after what top line recently did. The Caps will try and keep their best defensive players against Zuccarello, Brassard and Nash to limit their chances. This will mean that the second line must rise to the occasion and lead the offense. Look for Kreider to be amped up and ready to make Holtby’s life a living hell.

Enjoy the game.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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