Rangers look to tighten up defensively as they take on Capitals

The New York Rangers know very well the issues that plagued them in their 6-2 drubbing against the Ottawa Senators centered around defensive assignments.

On Saturday, the team will begin another set of back-to-backs starting in Washington against the Capitals and followed by a visit from the Los Angeles Kings at the Garden. The focus of this weekend will be odd-man rushes against and attention to detail in all three zones.

“We have to establish the identity of the way we want to play,” coach Peter Laviolette said Friday. “You get back (to practice) and give reminders of how we need to play.”

For the coach, it will be his first return to D.C. after being dismissed last season.

Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers (18-5-1) vs Washington Capitals (12-8-3)
Date/Time: December 9, 2023 @ 7:00 PM ET
Arena: Capital One Arena
TV: MSG, MSGSN
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM

Note: Subject to change, updated for each game

Related: Artemi Panarin a Hart Trophy candidate

New York Rangers projected lineup

Riley Nash may be inserted for Barclay Goodrow after the veteran took a puck to the face in Ottawa and failed to practice on either Thursday or Friday. Here are the projected line combinations and pairings:

Kreider – Zibanejad – Brodzinski
Panarin – Trocheck – Lafreniere
Cuylle – Bonino – Wheeler
Vesey – Goodrow – Pitlick

Lindgren – Fox
Miller – Trouba
Gustafsson – Schneider

Shesterkin
Quick

Note: The Rangers will hold a morning skate for the extras at 11:30 AM ET at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex. Head coach Peter Laviolette will speak with the media at 4:50 p.m.ET. Check back in for updates.

Update: Barclay Goodrow is out versus the Caps

New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals

new york rangers
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Blueshirts enter this contest on a 1 game losing streak and have yet to lose consecutive games to date. They’ll hope to keep it that way, but need to make sure to limit the high number of odd-man rushes they’ve been giving up in recent weeks.

“I think we’ve done a good job (of bouncing back),” captain Jacob Trouba stated. “I think the last couple of games our game isn’t exactly where we want it to be. The focus is getting back to what made us successful early in the year; the defense, limiting odd-man rushes, and all that good stuff.”

While the squad’s leader is starting the obvious, New York’s 18 wins lead the league and is a testament to the their ability to responds when they need to. Their record of 5-0-0 after a loss backs that up, and the fact that they’ve outscored the opposition by a 15-7 margin is a good indication that the Rangers will be ready to go when the puck drops in the nation’s capital.

On the personal milestone front, defenseman Adam Fox is set to skate in his 300th regular season contest. The 25 year-old has registered 16 points (3 goals, 13 assists) in 14 games on the year up to this point.

Meanwhile, the Capitals are struggling as of late. Prior to Thanksgiving, Washington was in second place in the Metro, but a 2-4-1 run in their last 7 matches dropped them to fifth.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore