The Rangers and Capitals face off for the first of four meetings this season. One of the more storied rivalries in the NHL for the last ten years as the Capitals and Rangers have faced off in the playoffs five times in the last eight years. These two definitely do not like each other and if the playoff history was not enough to make one get up for this game. Capitals head coach Barry Trotz had a few words to say about now Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Last season Shattenkirk was sent to Washington to be the final piece of the Capitals Stanley Cup puzzle, unfortunately, it did not turn out that way. And it seemed Trotz did not think highly of Shattenkirk as he said
“It worked in areas that we wanted. He helped our power play. He made it more dangerous. … I think everybody thought of him as a 1-2, and he really wasn’t. He was a little lower. I think it worked out OK. I think he had a patch during the one series where it wasn’t really good. I think he regained it and scored a big goal for us in (Pittsburgh.) I just think, yeah, the first playoff series wasn’t — that’s what you remember. It sticks out. But I think overall he was fine.”
Kevin Shattenkirk did not like those comments and has, in short, said ok, well see you tonight. Now the Capitals had their own problems last season and Shattenkirk was not the main cause as to why they lost the series vs Pittsburgh last year. Anyways, all problems aside, Shattenkirk did not resign with Washington as his time there was not well spent and since joining the Rangers he has added, 5 goals and 15 assists with 9 power play points.
The Rangers though aside from all these turmoil between Shattenkirk and Trotz, will be without Mika Zibanejad as he is dealing with concussion-like symptoms, which means the Rangers are now running David Desharnais on the first line, and other two centers are Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller, the Rangers center depth is not the best but it has been serviceable all season. Quite honestly, offensive scoring or depth has not seemed to bother the Rangers production. In the NHL the Rangers are 8th for goals for(90) and 21st for goals against(80). Another road game and must win as the standings continue to tighten and the Metropolitan division seems to be one of the toughest divisions in the league as the first place and second place team (Devils and Columbus) have 36, 35 points and the other four teams behind those two have 35 points, just points away from the top and the Rangers sit outside the wild card spot with 32 points and two games in hand.
Keys for Rangers success:
- Slowing down Ovechkin, in the last two weeks, Ovi has 7 goals and 4 assists along with 4 power play points. He leads the league in goals(21) and has been the Capitals key piece on the front end as of now. Slowing him down is a must.
- Shutting down the power play: The Capitals play is ranked 6th performing at a 22.1 percent, a lot of that success comes from Ovechkin but the Capitals have a ton of pieces in Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicolas Backstrom, John Carlson. Staying out of the box and winning special teams is a must for the Rangers tonight.
- Quick start, the Rangers have started off slow on the road lately and even at home, a quick start is evident tonight. Jumping on the Capitals fragile blue line, getting pucks deep and making the Capitals defense transition and move the play up ice is a must for the Rangers win tonight.