Washington Capitals (16-3-4) vs New York Rangers (8-8-2)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||11-1-3||2.91 / .906% / 0|
|New York Rangers||Henrik Lundqvist||4-4-1||3.54 / .905% / 0|
Tonight, the Washington Capitals will face the New York Rangers for the 2nd time this season. Since the Caps’ defeated the Rangers 5-2 back on October 18th, New York has won 6 of 13 games. Conversely, the Capitals have won 11 of 15, and lead the league in wins, goals for, goal differential, and shot percentage.
On Monday, the Washington Capitals defeated the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. However, that win was anything but run-of-the-mill. The league-leading Capitals have established themselves as the team to beat, and opposition will stop at almost nothing to give themselves a fighting chance. Literally. Richard Panik, who has not scored since joining the Caps, tallied his first goal of the season, just 50 seconds into the first period.
Panik missed 10 games with an injury that landed him on IR. Travis Boyd tallied a primary assist on the goal, and now has three points in three consecutive games (NHL.com). TJ Oshie was called for delay of game at the 18:00 mark of the first period, but Washington successfully killed off the penalty. The second period saw the Capitals’ first power play of the night, and a beautiful pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov to Alex Ovechkin ended up in the back of the net, giving Washington a 2-0 lead. With his 15th goal of the season, Ovechkin ranks 3rd in goal scoring across the league.
The remainder of the middle frame was fairly uneventful, despite some rough-housing between the two teams, and some non-calls from on-ice officials. It wasn’t until the final 30 seconds of the period that things really started to heat up. Capitals forward Brendan Leipsic was fed up with Anaheim’s shenanigans, and threw a massive hit, all 5’10” of him, after being tied up by Erik Gudbranson and repeatedly cross-checked by Brendan Guhle.
Both Leipsic and Garnet Hathaway, who had also been very involved throughout the first two periods were then dragged into an all-out brawl behind the goal. In the midst of all the extra-curriculars, Chandler Stephenson scored on Ducks goaltender John Gibson, but many wondered if the goal would stand. Hathaway continued to get into it with Derek Grant and Brett Ritchie. Erik Gudbranson, who, with the Ducks, is playing on his third team in two years, sucker-punched Hathaway as the referees and linesmen were attempting to separate them. Hathaway, in sheer anger and disgust, then spat on Gudbranson, and John Carlson got involved as well. As the officials tried to decide what penalties would be doled out, and for how long, fans in Capital One Arena sat impatiently, trying to decide if the home team was up 3-0, or if Stephenson’s goal wouldn’t count. After what seemed like 15 minutes, the Caps and the Ducks would play two minutes of 4-on-4, and then Anaheim would have a three-minute power play.
Garnet Hathaway received a match penalty, and therefore would not play the remainder of the game. Chandler Stephensons’ goal stood, and the Capitals led 3-0 heading into the third period. At the 5:44 mark of the final period, Jakub Vrana scored his 10th goal of the season, lifting the Caps to a score of 4-0.
Just short of the 13-minute mark, TJ Oshie would receive his second penalty of the game, four minutes for high-sticking. Sam Steel scored his first of the season, ruining Braden Holtby’s hopes for a shutout. Less than four minutes later, Nicolas Deslauriers also scored his first of the season, cutting Washingtons’ lead to two. Ducks head-coach Dallas Eakins emptied their net for the extra skater, and Tom Wilson sealed the deal for Washington with an empty-net goal at the 18:49 mark.
Braden Holtby allowed just two goals on 34 shots and is expected to start for Washington tonight.
The New York Rangers last played on Saturday, and should be well-rested heading into tonight’s match. The Rangers lost to the Florida Panthers by a score of 4-3, after allowing two power play goals on four opportunities by the Panthers. All of the scoring in the first period came before the game was 10 minutes old. Mike Hoffman started the scoring with an early power play, but just about 30 seconds after Florida scored, Ryan Strome scored his 6th of the season to tie the game. Just short of seven minutes into the period, Evgenii Dadonov scored his 9th of the season, again on the Panthers’ power play, and two minutes later, Artemi Panarin tied it all up with his 9th goal. New York received their first power play opportunity one minute into the second period, but were unable to convert. The Rangers’ power play is alright, ranking 14th, and operating at 20.6% efficiency, but their penalty kill is not alright. The Rangers average 13.2 penalty minutes per game, and their 3rd worst penalty kill in the league doesn’t help their cause. Killing just 73.2% of penalties taken, the Rangers have allowed 12 power play goals, in 8 games played in November. Six of those PPG’s came versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, in an embarrassing 9-3 defeat back on November 14th. Tony DeAngelo scored his 6th just short of the six-minute mark of the third period, but two more goals for the Panthers, one from Brett Connolly, and another from Evgenii Dadonov proved too much for the Rangers to overcome (TheScore, NYR @ FLA). One month ago, when the Rangers last played the Capitals, New York boasted the 2nd best faceoff percentage in the league, but has since dropped to 29th, as they win 47.4% of all faceoffs taken. The Rangers also allow, on average, 3.61 goals against per game, 2nd most in the league (TheScore, New York Rangers). On the other hand, the Capitals score the most goals for, averaging 3.74 per game (TheScore, Washington). Versus the Panthers, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist allowed 4 goals on 30 shots, ending the night with a .867 save percentage. Lundqvist is expected to start tonight.
The New York Rangers are without defenseman Marc Staal (OUT- infection), and center Mika Zibanejad (OUT- upper body). Zibanejad has played just three games this season. Carl Hagelin participated in an optional practice yesterday, donning a non-contact jersey. Nic Dowd did not participate. Nicklas Backstrom is out with an upper-body injury, and will not play versus the Rangers. The Washington Capitals have recalled forwards Beck Malenstyn and Mike Sgarbossa, as well as defenseman Tyler Lewington, and goaltender Ilya Samsonov from the Hershey Bears. With the moves, they have re-assigned Vitek Vanecek to Hershey. Washington has placed Nic Dowd on IR, and is eligible to be reactivated November 21st. Carl Hagelin has been placed on LTIR, and is eligible to be reactivated December 2nd. Garnet Hathaway will not dress for tonight’s game, as he has been issued a three-game suspension. We are absolutely shocked by the league’s decision, as Hathaway was wrongfully given a match penalty for an offense that was more deserving of a game misconduct penalty, if anything at all. It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the league continues to fail to punish those who are actually deserving of suspension.
Coverage of the game begins at 7:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 7:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 8:00pm.
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NHL.com. (2019). Travis Boyd Stats and News. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/player/travis-boyd-8476329.
TheScore. (2019). New York Rangers @ Florida Panthers. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/22032 .
TheScore. (2019). New York Rangers News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/8 .
TheScore. (2019). Washington Capitals News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15 .