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Rangers look for revenge against the Capitals; Raanta gets the start

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs capitals 1=9

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Setup:

The Rangers (24-15-5) picked up a crucial two points in a divisional battle against the Flyers, securing just their second win in their last 11 road games (2-7-2), and drawing equal with the Islanders in the standings. Now they face another tough test against a divisional foe that sits 16 points ahead of them in the Metropolitan. The Washington Capitals (33-8-3) are having an incredible season, and they’re easily the most dangerous team in the NHL.

The Capitals are coming off of a 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on the road, and now they head back to the Verizon Center, where they play six of their next seven games. Washington is 17-3-1 on home ice this season, and despite the loss to the Sabres, they’re still 14-2-1 in their last 17 games.

Season Series:

Tonight’s game is the fourth of five meetings between these two rivals this season, with the final game coming on March fourth at the Verizon Center. The Capitals have won the last two games, including their comeback win eight days ago. The Rangers skated to a 5-2 victory in the first game back in November, beating Braden Holtby five times on just 21 shots. Derick Brassard, Oscar Lindberg and Kevin Hayes all scored a goal and added an assist. Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves. New York then lost a pair of home games. On December 20th, they took a 3-1 lead into the second period, but let in six unanswered goals in a 7-3 loss. Then on January 9th, the Capitals led 2-0 heading into the third period before Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Viktor Stalberg gave the Rangers a one goal lead .With 5.7 seconds left, Nicklas Backstrom scored to send the game into overtime, and Alex Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game to send the Caps home with a win.

Team Scope

Washington Capitals:

The loss in Buffalo snapped a five game win streak for the Washington Capitals, but they are by far the best team in the league. In the loss last night, Braden Holtby was pulled after allowing three goals on 16 shots, and he was replaced by Philipp Grubauer, who turned aside 12 of 13 shots. Holtby has started 36 of the team’s 44 games and he rarely gets any rest, so don’t be surprised if Grubauer gets the start.

Almost every season, if you’re talking about the Capitals, you’re almost exclusively talking about Alexander Ovechkin. And while he is certainly having another excellent season, scoring 26 goals (9 on the power play) and adding 13 assists, the Caps have been led by their top two centers. The always underrated Nicklas Backstrom is enjoying another excellent season, tallying 41 points (13-28-41) in 41 games, and second-year player Evgeny Kuznetsov is having a breakout season, also scoring 41 points (15-26-41).

After leaving the LA Kings, veteran forward Justin Williams is bringing all of the attributes that have helped him win two championships to the nation’s capital, and the Caps are a better team for it. When Washington came back to beat the Rangers eight days ago, Williams was his clutch self again, scoring a goal and assisting on Backstrom’s game-tying goal. He’s en route to his best season statistically since the 2011-12 season, and he’ll likely reach 20 goals this year. His tendency for clutch plays, coming up in big moments, and his veteran leadership combined with his winning pedigree are helping the Capitals become a much stronger team.

New York Rangers

The Rangers have typically had success against the Capitals for a while now. They’ve earned a point in 15 of the last 21 games against Washington. New York has won seven of the last nine road games against the Caps, including four of the last five games, and each of their last two road games.

The Rangers are still looking to win consecutive games for the first time since November 21-23, and they haven’t won two straight road games since the middle of that same month. In the second game of back-to-backs this season, New York is 5-3-1. But the Blueshirts are 15-4-2 in the second game of the last 21 back-to-back series.

Antti Raanta will be making his first start in exactly a month today because of some injuries and a spaced out schedule. On December 17th, Raanta was struck in the head with a slap shot in a game against the Wild and was removed from the game. Raanta sat out the next three games with the injury and then backed up Lundqvist for the last eight games, playing the final 6:19 against the Nashville Predators. On the season, Raanta is 4-3-1 with a shutout, a 2.08 GAA and a .919 save percentage, although he has lost his last three decisions and hasn’t won a start since November 19th against Toronto. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares against the top team in the league, and one with so many offensive weapons.

JT Miller scored his ninth goal of the season last night, snapping a power play drought and continuing his dominance on the road this season. Miller leads the team in points (15), and is tied for the team lead in goals (seven) and assists (eight) on the road this season. In the team’s last 14 games, Miller leads the Rangers in goals (five) and is tied for the team lead in points (nine).

Kevin Hayes didn’t record a point against the Flyers, but played another strong game, and he has responded well since sitting as a heathy scratch for two games. In the last six games against the Capitals, he has tallied nine points (4-5-9), including four multi-point performances in those games.

Wrap-Up:

The Rangers and the Capitals will face off at the Verizon Center at 5 pm. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINEUP

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash

JT Miller-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Oscar Lindberg-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Viktor Stalberg

Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Klein

Keith Yandle-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on January 17, 2016, in Game Previews, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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