Capitals vs. Rangers: Pregame, Broadcast Info & More


The Washington Capitals travel to the Big Apple in search of their fifth win in a row – tonight against the New York Rangers.

Happy Sunday Funday, Washington Capitals fans. Tonight at 7:00 EST, the best team in the NHL’s Eastern Conference (and Masters of the Metropolitan) travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the ailing New York Rangers. Of course, that team is your Washington Capitals and with a win tonight, could tie the league lead in points at 50.

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Of course, the New York Rangers, last season’s President’s Cup winners likely have other notions in mind. In their November 3rd contest, the Rangers beat the Caps by a final score of 5-2 and reclaimed top honors in the division with the victory, but since then – the wheels have come off the proverbial New York bus somewhat.

In the month of December, the Rangers have gone 3-5-1 and have surrendered goals at an alarming rate. Over the last 13 games, they’ve been consistently outscored by at least one goal, 45-32. Against a team generating as much firepower as the Capitals currently are, we can only hope that the trend will continue.

One place where the Rangers have not slumped is within the confines of home barn Madison Square Garden where the Blueshirts have managed to keep a 13-4-1 record. The Capitals are riding an impressive road record currently at 10-3-1 and are looking for their fifth straight win after defeating Eastern rivals Ottawa and Tampa Bay at home.

For the Rangers, the offense has sputtered mightily from this point a year ago and suddenly, the infallible goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has allowed three or more goals in the last seven games. That’s a recipe for dropping points rapidly in the standings, yet the Rangers are still only six points back from first place in the Metropolitan. And it’s still early on the season.

The Washington Capitals are simply playing too well right now, despite relying on a cast of reserves on defense to be pre-occupied with what the Rangers are doing. What the Capitals can continue to remain focused on is a team that is among leaders in blocked shots, has scored 11 goals in the last three games and has a goaltender making a case for the Hart Trophy.

The strategy for the Capitals will be to continue relying on a strong forecheck to spurn cycles low and rattle the nest of opposing netminders. Henrik Lundqvist has done an excellent job stifling that effort over the last few seasons, but now suddenly looks much more vulnerable. The Capitals have an opportunity to make a statement tonight.

The Rangers will likely search for weaknesses in the Capitals’ defense – spreading relative inexperience thin with dumps into the zone and stretch passes through neutral. The Capitals have done a great job of snuffing both types of play out early in the season. I anticipate more than a few extracurricular scraps after the whistle to stop play.

That strategy, as Mike Vogel of the Monumental Network recently pointed out, may play right into the Capitals’ favor. Now the winners of early season contests against several Eastern Conference powerhouses such as Tampa Bay and Montreal, the Capitals will be ready to notch another victory over a team that they may soon play early in the playoffs.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Tonight is no game seven and these aren’t the playoffs. What’s at stake is a win within the division and the opportunity to drive more of a wedge between rivals. Being able to rattle the New York Rangers on their home turf could go a long way towards creating and removing confidence for later.

Karl Alzner is only looking to even the score from last time these two played this season.

"“For us, it’s playing the way we want to play and don’t play their game. Their game is different than ours. A lot of times we get trapped into playing a little run and gun, and making some long bomb passes like they do, and that’s not us. For us, it’s hard won low, pucks in deep, cycle. They’ve got a good [defense] corps. We’re trying to make that investment right away, like we talk about in the playoffs with hits. You’ve got to start in the first period, carry it into the second and by the third they’ve got some guys that play a lot of minutes, so we’ll try to tire them out and wait for our chances then.” – via Monumental Network"

WHAT: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers

WHERE: Madison Square Garden, New York City



RADIO COVERAGE: Caps Radio 24/7


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