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Rangers battle the Caps for the first time; Girardi and Buchnevich still not ready

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-capitals-19

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

 

After two home games followed by two days off, the Rangers (2-2-0) will face one of their toughest tasks of this brief season, and that’s a road contest against Alex Ovechkin and the Washinton Capitals (3-0-1), who have not lost in regulation.

This is also the first game in a back-to-back series for New York, as they will face the Coyotes tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden. For the Capitals, this is their last game before they get some time off, with just one game in the next six days.

This is the first of four meetings between the Rangers and the Caps this season, with the next game not coming until February. The Rangers were 2-2-1 in the series last season, winning one of the two games at the Verizon Center. New York has earned a point in seven of their last 10 games against Washington (6-3-1), and have scored at least three goals in eight of those 10 games.

The Rangers are just 2-2-0, and arguably their best complete performances have come in losses. The Rangers totally dominated the Red Wings, nearly doubling them in shots on goal and shot attempts, but Jimmy Howard stole the game away.

They’ll face another very good goalie tonight in Braden Holtby. Holtby is coming off of a Vezina winning season where he went 48-9-7 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.20 GAA. In three games this year he has allowed five goals, and is 2-0-1 with a 1.63 GAA and a .938 save percentage.

Obviously the focal point of any Capitals offense is Alex Ovechkin, but that’s especially true when he plays the Rangers. It seems like every time he plays the Rangers, he scores a goal. Ovi has two goals and an assist this season, and is a threat at even strength but especially on the power play.

T.J. Oshie had a successful first season in D.C., setting a career high with 26 goals and giving the capitals what they needed with a perfect winger to complement Ovechkin. Oshie is a bit of a grinder and plays a physical game, which might be tough for the Rangers to deal with.

The Rangers lineup isn’t expected to change, but some players will be swapped around. Dan Girardi and Pavel Buchnevich still aren’t ready to play, and Dylan McIlrath will not come in either.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start tonight. Hank allowed two goals on 18 shots last game and is 1-2-0 this season. One of the goals came on a poor misplay of the puck behind the net by Lundqvist, who has allowed five goals on his last 36 shots. He’ll need to be much better against the Caps tonight if the Rangers want to win. Lundqvist is 19-9-4 with a 2.65 GAA and a .906 save percentage against Washington in his career.

Ryan McDonagh has been absolutely fantastic to start the season. Part of it might be because he isn’t playing with Dan Girardi due to injury, but the other part of it is the fact that this offense is much better and McDonagh has been getting more involved. The captain has three assists in four games this season, he has tallied three assists and looks good in all facets of his game. Last year, McDonagh had six assists in the five game season series, and as 16 points (1-15-16) in 22 career games against the Capitals.

Mats Zuccarello will now be the other winger alongside Kreider and Zibanejad, which means he’s the player to watch. If the Rangers were able to finish their chances against the Rangers, Zuccs would have had 18 assists. Having his playmaking ability next to Kreider and Z-bad will be so incredible to watch.

The Rangers and the Capitals will faceoff at the Verizon Center at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

TONIGHT’S LINES

Jimmy Vesey-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash

Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Mats Zuccarello

JT Miller-Kevin Hayes-Michael Grabner

Brandon Pirri-Josh Jooris-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Nick Holden

Marc Staal-Kevin Klein

Brady Skjei-Adam Clendening

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on October 22, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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