Washington Capitals vs. Rangers: Getting on the Right Track

Jakub Vrana, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jakub Vrana, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Capitals are starting to pick up some steam; Can they maintain it?

After the Capitals dropped four of their last six in regulation, they have gone on to pick up four big points in regulation against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres. Now that they seem to have gotten out of that horrendous slump they were in, the Capitals appear to be trending in the right direction. However, if they lose today’s game to the New York Rangers, the confidence in the locker room, as well as amongst fans, may take an unwanted dip.

Last game, Buffalo definitely had their chances against the Capitals. The difference between that game and any of the four they lost consecutively in regulation was that, instead of giving up goals when the opponent had opportunities, they didn’t panic, stood strong and got the puck out of their zone. Then, after they got it into the opponent’s zone, they were able to capitalize on the chances they had to slowly pull the game out of the Sabres’ grasp.

Much like in their previous game agains Pittsburgh, the Capitals secured the first three goals of the contest. The first coming off the stick of the steaming-hot, Nicklas Backstrom, on a play he started and finished to make it 1-0 on the power play in the first period (a period in which the Sabres had the better chances).

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Then, after the Capitals had taken a high-sticking penalty, Tom Wilson took it from his own blue line all the way to the net and scored with a shifty goal to make it 2-0 for the Caps. Finally, in the third period, Conor Sheary found the back of the net against his former team for the second game in a row as Schultz and Eller combined to get the puck to him at 5v5 to make it 3-0. The Sabres would respond with one of their own on a near-unstoppable shot by Victor Oloffson on the power play to make it 3-1, but that would be it for the scoring in this one.

The Capitals face the New York Rangers today, a team they’ve lost to once in their one meeting this season. However, that was arguably the Capitals’ worst effort of the entire season so far. If they can play the way they have the last couple games in which they don’t panic, shut things down and clog lanes defensively, as well as capitalize on their chances, there is no reason they can’t beat the Rangers and turn their season in a completely different direction.

After their four-game skid, the Capitals found themselves in fourth place in the Mass Mutual East Division. With the New York Islanders getting hot and the Philadelphia Flyers beginning to hit the stride we knew they would, the Capitals need to do the same. They are too far along in the season to be throwing points away they did earlier in the season. From now on, they need to be one of those teams who has found their play and is a threat every single night. I know it is tough, with new players, new coaches, and new systems in a COVID-shortened season, but it’s just the reality of the situation they’re in.

More. Washington Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom will be player to watch against Rangers. light

Will they be able to maintain their strong play as of late, or will they go back to playing like they did in early Februrary? Here’s how to find out:

Date: February 20th, 2021

Time: 12:30pm EST

Where: Capital One Arena

TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Washington

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

Live Streaming: NBC Sports Washington’s live stream page and on the MyTeams app.

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