Sporting the best record in the NHL at 39-11-7, the Washington Capitals come calling today as they invade The Garden and take on the Rangers.
The Blueshirts haven’t seen the Caps since the fifth game of the season and were able to put together an electric 4-2 come-from-behind victory back on Oct. 22. Jimmy Vesey led the way with two goals in that tilt.
Both teams had six-game winning streaks stopped in their last outings, although the Caps did earn a point in a shootout loss yesterday in Detroit. In a hard-fought contest in Brooklyn Thursday, the Rangers were punished for losing a one-on-one battle and were guilty of missed coverage in their own end. Both sequences resulted in second-period Islander goals. Throw in an Islander shorthanded goal early in the third and that was basically it: a 4-2 loss to the Isles.
1. Even Strength
The majority of any game in the NHL is played 5-on-5 and Washington’s goal differential is a whopping +63 at even strength. It is important in any game to pay attention at even strength, but the Caps’ overwhelming numbers will force the Rangers to be aware and play as a unit of five in all three zones.
2. Power Play
Despite getting one against the Islanders, the Rangers’ power play is just 3-for-33 in the last 12 games. Extensive work was done yesterday at practice, working on speed through the neutral zone and getting pucks to the net while a man up. Simply put: it has to be better.
The Capitals’ offense comes at their opposition with all hands on deck and the Rangers must do the same. The threesome of Chris Kreider–Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello has just six points in their last five games. They will play together as a line again this afternoon. A big-boy game needs all the big boys involved. And this is a big-boy game!
Listen to the Rangers-Caps this afternoon on the MSG Radio Network and ESPN 98.7 FM New York. Pregame at noon and puck drop a little after 12:30 p.m.