NHL Preview – Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers

NHL Preview – Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers

Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers

An afternoon game today treats us to a Metropolitan division tilt as one team looks to solidify their playoff seed, whilst the other battles for a spot in the Stanley Cup. The Washington Capitals head up to New York to take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The Capitals have been one of the redemption teams of the season after a bad 2013/14 campaign, and they finally look on the verge of returning to playoff Hockey, largely led by the great Alex Ovechkin’s offensive efforts. In part, they’ve been one of the most successful road teams this season, earning 19 wins from their 37 away games (14th best in the league). They’ve been a fringe top 10 contender all year, and they currently sit 13th in the league, 7th in the east, and 4th in the Metropolitan, closely pushing the 3rd placed Isles and 2nd placed Pens. This means the playoffs are within their grasp, but they can’t fall off the wagon just yet, as they currently hold the top wildcard playoff spot in the East. They have to be feeling confident with little injury woes as they head to New York with the Rangers coming off a loss. It’s likely that Brendan Holtby will start between the sticks tonight for the Caps who has really settled into his stride with Washington this season. This is reflected in his season numbers of a 2.21 GAA and a .923 SV% which are numbers that all starting tendies should strive for. They’ve put up one of the better records against division opposition this season, going 15-8-4.

I explained the other day just how sold I was on the Rangers this season, and they proved it this weekend as they were the first team from the East to earn a playoff spot. They’re going from strength-to-strength and I think they might be the dark horse of the playoffs this year. They boast the fifth best home record in the league, going 23-9-5. They’re sitting 5th in the league, 2nd in the east and 1st in the Metropolitan, however they’re at least two games in hand to each of the above four teams and only two points behind first place. Again, no injury worries for this squad, and they’ll be starting Cam Talbot back between the sticks after Henrik Lundqvist’s not so successful return in their last game. Talbot has been sensational this half of the season since taking over from Lundqvist, going 18-0-1. He’s posted big numbers going with a 2.16 GAA and .928 SV%, however they would be higher if you only took 2015 into account. The Rangers have been sensational against divisional opposition this season, going 19-5-1. What’s even more impressive is that they’ve only lost twice at home against divisional opponents, both to the same team who they later got revenge against.

This is a really interesting tilt in a game which usually produces some high tempo hockey. With two head-to-heads already this season, I see New York getting the trifecta of wins tonight as they are simply the team playing more stylish and imposing hockey right now. I like New York to earn the win on their climb to the top of the league tonight.


Categories: NHL, Preview

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