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Rangers look to extend win streak against Ovechkin and the Capitals

Bobby Bevilacqua

lundqvist during anthem 11-1

Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net for the Rangers tonight, and will be searching for his sixth straight win. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers (17-10-4) are playing their best hockey of the season, currently in the midst of a six game win streak, and they will face a tough challenge against the Washington Capitals (17-10-6), who are two points ahead of them in the standings.

The Capitals did play last night, beating the Ottawa Senators by a score of 2-1. Goaltender Braden Holtby stole the show, stopping 38 shots in his 15th victory of the year.

After going through a string of goalies last season, Holtby has solidified himself as the number one goaltender, and is off to a tremendous start to the season.

Holtby is 12-3-3 in his last 18 games, posting a 2.03 goals allowed average and a .934 save percentage in that stretch. He also has one shutout in those 18 games.

Even though he started last night, it’s very possible that head coach Barry Trotz will stick with Holtby against the Rangers on Tuesday night.

Braden-Holtby

Braden Holtby was stellar for Washington last night in a victory over the Ottawa Senators, stopping 38 of the 39 shots that he faced, giving him his 15th win of the season. It’s likely that he could start again tonight.

 

The entire Capitals team itself is also playing very well as a group. The Caps are not on a win streak, but have a 9 game point streak going, in which they have posted a 7-0-2 record.

The Caps have also been strong on the road lately, putting up a 7-1-2 record away from the Verizon Center in their last 10 games. Offensively this season, they have excelled. The Caps are eighth in the NHL with 2.91 goals per game, and allow just 2.52 goals against per game.

This is partially due to the play of two of their superstars, Nicklas Backstrom and their captain, Alexander Ovechkin. Backstrom is red hot lately, with six goals and three assists in his last five games, giving him a total of 36 points this season (11-25-36). Ovechkin is also playing very well, with 27 points (15-12-27) in the Caps first 33 games.

The Caps are also succeeding because of their depth scoring. Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer both have 10 goals this season, and defenseman John Carlson has already picked up 24 points (4-20-24). With contributions from all over the ice, the Capitals are a dangerous team to face.

The Rangers are just as hot as the Capitals, and earned their sixth straight win after beating the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 1-0 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. Cam Talbot picked up the win and the shutout, which was the second shutout during the win streak. Henrik Lundqvist had the other one in a win over Edmonton.

cam talbot first star 12-21

Cam Talbot was in net for the Rangers win over the Hurricanes on Sunday, making 18 saves for his third shutout of the season, and giving the Rangers their sixth straight win. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

During the win streak, the Rangers have outscored opponents by a total of 19-8, and has only allowed five goals in the last five games. Henrik Lundqvist was in net for the first five wins, and will retake his place between the pipes against Washington tonight, the only lineup change for the Rangers.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said that Lee Stempniak, who has missed the last two games with the mumps, will not be available until after Christmas. Stempniak did skate by himself on Monday and took part in today’s morning skate.

Throughout the win streak, the Rangers have been a much better defensive team. The forwards and the defenseman have been communicating more effectively, and have been playing a more aggressive forecheck, all of which has helped the Rangers create more offense and prevent chances from their opponents.

The Rangers defensemen have also been contributing to the offensive game much more frequently. Over the course of the six game win streak, Rangers defenseman have scored a total of nine points, six goals and three assists, and have scored at least one goal in five of the games. They have at least a point in all six games.

kevin klein goal celebration 12-8

Kevin Klein (7 G, 4 A) and Ryan McDonagh (2 G, 8 A) lead Rangers defensemen in points, and have helped create more production from the Rangers blue line. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

During the beginning of the year, the Rangers were getting very little production from the blue line. Led by Kevin Klein, who has seven goals, and Ryan McDonagh, with two goals, they are starting to change that, and the team has been better as a result.

Tonight’s game against the Capitals will be the last game for the two teams before the holiday break. This will be the Rangers toughest game since the 4-3 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and with the Capitals just two points ahead of the Rangers in the standings, a win could propel them into third place in the standings.

The puck will drop at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM, and the game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

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Posted on December 23, 2014, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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