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Rangers looking for better performance against Capitals; Talbot in net

Bobby Bevilacqua

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The Rangers will be hoping for a better performance today when they take on the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden, trying to build off of a poor performance in Boston. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After a poor showing yesterday afternoon, the Rangers (47-20-7) will be looking to sharpen and solidify their game when they take on the Washington Capitals (40-25-10) back at Madison Square Garden continuing their march towards a potential President’s trophy and home ice advantage.

Both teams are coming off of losses on Saturday as well. The Rangers gave up four straight goals in Henrik Lundqvist’s debut, playing very poor defensively before tightening up and scoring two goals in the final 25 minutes. The Capitals got off to a similar start, pulling starting goaltender Braden Holtby after three goals in the first period before rallying to a 4-3 defeat.

This is the third of four games between these two teams, with New York coming away with wins in the first two meetings. The Rangers edged a 4-2 victory at MSG on December 23rd, with Rick Nash scoring his first hat trick as a Ranger, and Lundqvist making 30 saves. Just 18 days ago, the Blue Shirts won 3-1 down in D.C., as the Rangers third line got things going, with goals from JT Miller and Carl Hagelin, while Martin St. Louis iced the game late. Cam Talbot picked up a win, finishing with 28 saves on 29 shots.

Not so long ago it appeared that the Capitals were a lock for the first wild card spot. Now that the Islanders and Penguins are struggling, Washington sits just three points out of second place in the Metropolitan Division, so this is an important game for them as well.

After playing less than 15 minutes in yesterday’s game, Braden Holtby will likely be in net for the Capitals this afternoon. The Capitals have struggled to find a number one goaltender for the past few years, but Holtby has stepped in and performed admirably this season, securing the job and playing well. In 66 games played this season, he is 36-19-9 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.21 GAA.

Obviously, whenever you play the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin will always be the guy to look out for. With a hard shot, and a dangerous one-timer, Ovechkin has powered his way into the league lead in goals, sitting at 47 on the season. 21 of those goals have come on the power play, which is part of the reason that the Capitals have the number one power play in the league, sitting at 24.4 percent. He will certainly be a player to look out for in today’s game.

The Capitals have a few quality depth players, and the young Marcus Johansson is one of them. At the age of 24, he already has four prior seasons of experience under his belt, and in posting the best stats of his career. Johansson is fourth on the team in scoring with 42 points, including a career high 17 goals. He has three assists in the last two games, and will be looking to extend his point streak.

For the Rangers, Cam Talbot will be back in net for New York as planned. Lundqvist was scheduled to get one start this weekend, with Talbot taking the other game, and that looks as if it will be the case today. Talbot has been fantastic lately, allowing more than two goals just once in 11 starts in March. Talbot became the first Ranger to win 20 games since Mike Richter did it in 2002-03, and will look to help the Blue Shirts get back on track with a win this afternoon.

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Cam Talbot will be back in net for the Rangers today, looking to get New York back on track as well as go for his 21st win of the season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

In order to come away with a win today, the defensive effort will have to be much better from New York. One of the key guys will have to be Ryan McDonagh. Everytime Alex Ovechkin is on the ice, Vigneault will send out McDonagh and Girardi to shut him down. Although he is not having his best season, McDonagh is still a tremendous defender, and will be a key piece if New York wants some success. McDonagh also has not scored since February 16th, with one assist in his last 10 games, so he’s overdue for some production.

The key to today’s game will be the Rangers power play. After a game where the Rangers could have easily had three or four power plays, but had none, the odds are that they will be on the man advantage today. New York has just one power play opportunity in the past three games, and none in the past two games, the first time that this has happened to the team since the 1987-88 season. Guys like Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle will play a huge part from the point, and Chris Kreider, who leads the team with seven power play goals, will do the dirty work down low.

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Keith Yandle has been playing very well lately, but the Rangers haven’t had many power play opportunities. I have a feeling this will change, and Yandle will play a big part. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The penalty kill will also need to be sharp against a team like the Capitals. Guys like Dominic Moore, Carl Hagelin and Jesper Fast will all be important in keeping guys like Alex Ovechkin from getting his one-timer on net.

Martin St. Louis has been skating and doing drills for the past few days, but I don’t think he will be back for today’s game. He’s getting close however, and today would be his seventh game out of the lineup.

The Rangers and the Capitals will face off at Madison Square Garden at 3 pm. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

I will be at the game today wearing my Derick Brassard heritage jersey, and I will be sitting in Section 227, Row 15, and Seat 2. If you’re at the game, feel free to come by and say hello!

EXPECTED LINES (Not Confirmed)

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash

JT Miller-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes- Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-James Sheppard

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Matt Hunwick

Cam Talbot

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Posted on March 29, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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