The Rangers host the league’s top team tonight with Washington in town for the third of four meetings this season.
The Blueshirts have won the first two games between the clubs, with the last match-up just four games ago, a 2-1 Rangers win. In that one, the Rangers dominated the first period, but the Caps righted their ship to tie the game at one-all in the second before Mats Zuccarello scored the game-winner in the third.
Both teams have made deals to strengthen their backend heading into tomorrow’s trade deadline. Washington acquired Kevin Shattenkirk from St. Louis, while the Rangers have traded for Brendan Smith. The great Scotty Bowman once said, “you can never be deep enough on the blue line come playoff time” and both teams have addressed that issue.
The Rangers are coming off a lethargic 5-2 loss to Columbus, where they gave up one early, got it back on a goal from Rick Nash shortly thereafter, but couldn’t muster up the energy needed to play against an energetic Blue Jackets team that had just come off their five-day break.
3 KEYS TO RANGERS-CAPITALS
It is important to understand when to be aggressive when defending in your end, and when to be passive. If you don’t, there’s an awful lot of chasing the puck and you will pay a steep price if that understanding is off. A talented opponent will make you pay. Make no mistake, Washington is a very talented opponent.
Too many times this season at The Garden, the Rangers have given up an early goal, either at the start of the game or the start of a period. It tends to drain the emotion out of the building and puts both the team, and their fans, on their heels at a time when you are looking to establish some momentum and energy at home.
Nicklas Backstrom might be the most proficient passer in the league and he is a deadly power play QB. Taking his time and space away will be key as he, like everyone else in the building, is looking to find the Great 8, Alex Ovechkin.
Should be a good one tonight. Catch all the Ranger/Caps action on ESPN 98.7 FM (Radio) and MSG Network (TV). Pre-game at 6:30 p.m. Puck-drop a little after 7.
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