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Rangers take on the Capitals in D.C.; NHL’s leading goal scorers face off

Bobby Bevilacqua

rick nash celebration 12-23

Rick Nash had his first hat trick as a Rangers when these two teams last faced off, and is hoping to keep providing offensive support for the Rangers. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After a huge win over the Islanders, the Rangers (41-17-7) will look to stay hot when they take on the Washington Capitals (36-21-10) at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C, another Metropolitan Division matchup.

The Rangers and Capitals have met just once this season, with the Rangers coming away with a 4-2 victory at Madison Square Garden. Rick Nash scored his first hat trick as a Ranger, and Derick Brassard had three assists. Henrik Lundqvist started, stopping 30 of the 32 shots that he faced.

The Rangers have been really successful against Metropolitan Division opponents, with a 17-3-1 record in their last 21 interdivisional games. The Rangers will take on the Capitals two more times this season after tonight.

Tonight’s matchup will be a bit different. The Capitals have still been playing well, but have cooled down since their strong December month. The Capitals also have a few injury concerns heading into tonight’s matchup.

Mike Green, fourth in scoring on the team, will not start for the Capitals tonight due to an injury. Another one of their top defensemen, Bruce Orpik, will be a game time decision, also dealing with an undisclosed injury. That would make Washington very thin on the backend, a weakness the Rangers need to exploit.

The Capitals are led by two players when it comes to scoring; Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, both with 69 points on the season. Backstrom plays setup man, and leads the NHL with 51 assists. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals, with an astounding 44 on the season. He has arguably the best one-timer in the world, and has 20 power play goals this season.

When it comes to depth scorers, Joel Ward and Curtis Glencross are two of the Capitals best. Joel Ward has been there the whole season, and has 16 goals this season. Glencross was picked up from Calgary at the trade deadline, and already has four points (2-2-4) in three games with Washington.

Braden Holtby has done a really great job in the starter’s role, with a record of 32-16-9 along with a 2.15 GAA and a .925 save percentage, impressive numbers. He will start tonight.

Since there is no morning skate, Vigneault will not address the media until later tonight. Cam Talbot started last night, but since this is another important game for the standings, he will likely get the call again tonight. Talbot is 15-6-4 with a 2.28 GAA and a .922 save percentage, and an 11-2-3 record as a starter.

cam talbot glove save 2-19

Cam talbot has been amazing the last four games, and will likely start again for the Rangers tonight. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Rick Nash scored his 39th goal of the season last night, and just his second in the past seven games. It was a lucky bounce, but it may have been exactly what he needed to get his confidence back. Nash leads the team in scoring with 62 points (39-23-62) in 64 games.

Nash’s linemates, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello are surging lately. Brasard has 52 points this season, including a team-leading 38 assists. Zuccarello has a four game assist streak going, with 5 assists in that span. That line is easily the Rangers best, and controls play every time they’re on the ice.

zuccarello and brassard 12-13

Alongside Rick Nash, Brassard and Zuccarello have been two of the Rangers best players this season, creating a dangerous top line. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

In order to get a win, the Rangers will need to score first and score early, especially after playing an exhausting game last night. Staying out of the penalty box is huge, especially with Ovechkin taking one-timers for two minutes.

The Rangers power play has been really bad lately, and was 0-4 last night against the Islanders. This needs to change, and the Rangers power play has to become a weapon again.

The Rangers and the Capitals will faceoff at 8 PM tonight at the Verizon Center. The game will be broadcasted on NBCSN.

EXPECTED LINEUP

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Martin St. Louis

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-JT Miller

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Kevin Klein

Cam Talbot

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Posted on March 11, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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