Beating up on the Florida teams is nice, but the Washington Capitals’ next challenge is to show they can maintain their winning ways against somebody else. The New York Rangers are that somebody, playing host to the Caps at Madison Square Garden to finish off the Hockey Day in America coverage on the NBC networks.
Along with the big stage, the game has the appearance of one that will be strength versus strength. Washington has won three straight, including back-to-back road wins, scoring plenty of goals in the process. New York has been solid at home, and goalie Henrik Lundqvisthas wins in his last three starts. He should be in action today after getting a rest on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Caps power play has been humming along like a well oiled machine after getting its fair share of criticism during the season’s opening weeks. Mike Ribeiro and Alex Ovechkin each have four goals with the man advantage, and Troy Brouwer is right behind them with three. They’ll have their work cut out for them against the penalty killers for the Rangers, who have blanked their last four opponents.
Some health questions surround notable names on both sides. Rick Nash, who hasn’t been scoring a lot of goals but still is contributing a lot for New York, didn’t practice on Saturday but is expected to be in uniform this evening. It sounds like it could be a game-time decision for Washington’s Mike Green, as the defenseman is nursing a lower-body injury and left the team’s most recent practice after skating for less than 20 minutes.
One Capital who isn’t leaving any doubts right now is Eric Fehr. He’s scored three goals in the last two games and has combined with Brouwer to do most of the damage during the current winning streak. The Rangers continue to lean on leading scorer Marian Gaborik, but Carl Hagelin has had the hot hand of late, finding the net four times in the last three games.
The Caps are still technically in last place in the East since Winnipeg has a game in hand. But they’re also just six points out of the division lead in what is shaping up to be a very winnable Southeast Division. No one is suggesting Washington should be doing anything besides working its way into the playoff discussion right now, but if this streak can extend another game or two, that might change.
Sounds like a perfect way to finish off Hockey Day to us.
Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Start time: 6 pm EST
TV: NBC Sports Network