The Washington Capitals host the New York Rangers Wednesday night at Capital One Arena in their first of four meetings of the season. Puck drop is at 7 PM EST and can be seen on NBC Sports Washington, or on the NHL Network for viewers outside of the DMV area.
The Rangers are off to one of their worst starts in franchise history with a current record of 2-4, good enough for 28th in the National Hockey League. New York will play on back-to-back nights. They beat the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. Kevin Shattenkirk, who has been benched recently, had the game winner. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 of 33 shots.
First year Head Coach David Quinn has dressed a different line-up for their first five games of the season, and plans on doing so until they find their tempo. Quinn noted in an interview that he needs to rely on the young talent.
Rookie centerman Filip Chytil, who has been playing on New York’s fourth-line the past two games, has been moved around in the lineup. Coach Quinn placed the rookie in the wing slot during the preseason to give him more time on the ice and looks to do so in the upcoming season.
The Rangers have been struggling on offense, scoring only 12 goals, five in one game, so far this season. To put that into perspective, right winger Jesper Fast has just 4 points this season, but leads the team. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is only allowing an average of 2.03 goals a game, but that’s enough for the opposing teams to come out on top due to the struggling offense.
New York does not rank in the Top 20 in power play goals or penalty kills; Washington’s strengths. On the flip-side, the Rangers lead the Capitals in faceoff winning percentages and goals allowed per game.
New York Ranger fans should not worry, as it is early in the season. David Quinn is “exploring his options” for the upcoming season. Look for the Rangers to give Washington a fight in the second half of the season when they find their tempo.
The Capitals are on the verge of falling below .500 for the first time this season. Washington, who has played five games so far this season, is currently ranked 20th in the National Hockey League.
Over the past two weeks, Washington has played four of their first five games back-to-back. The New York Rangers look to do so this upcoming week, playing Washington the second night. It is no secret that the Capitals have looked slower on the nights they have played the previous night, and the Rangers will likely fall into their same foot steps.
At Monday’s practice, the team worked on basic handling skills. Head Coach Todd Rierden stated in an interview that same afternoon that “He had thought about this practice throughout the summer and was waiting for the right time.” Players, like Devante-Smith Pelly commented as well stating “Guys are a little tired and sore, but Coach Rierden kept us moving in a positive way.”
Washington comes off of a three-day game-less stretch, giving them an advantage against the struggling New York Rangers. Washington, who ranks 7th in PPG, will likely face Henrik Lundqvist in the New York goal. Lundqvist is averaging 2.o3 GAA, which puts him in the top-ten in the league.
Goaltender Braden Holtby, who is averaging 3.25 GAA, looks to bounce back after giving up 4 goals Saturday against the hot Toronto Maple Leafs. Holtby should have no issue doing so, as the Rangers have scored only 12 goals in their first five games. The Capitals are known for their Power Play opportunities, an area the Rangers struggle in. All four of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goals have come on Power Plays (second in NHL) along side teammate Nicklas Backstrom.
However, since the departure of Jay Beagle, the Capitals are in next to last place when it comes to faceoffs. At this time in the 2017-2018 season, Washington was 7th in the league. Capitals Andre Burakovsky, who has won 100% of his faceoffs, has yet to score his first point of the season. Do they look towards him to pull them out of last place?
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) October 14, 2018
Game notes are here.
Washington holds a 103-90-18-7 record against the Rangers all-time, a 56-40-9-4 record at home and have recorded a point in six straight games (5-0-1).
Today marks the 44th anniversary of the Capitals’ first ever win in franchise history. On Oct. 17, 1974, the Capitals defeated the Chicago Black Hawks, 4-3. Denis Dupere led the Capitals with two goals that game, while Ron Anderson and Jack Eagers would each add a goal. Ron Low stopped 33 of the 36 shots he faced (.917 save percentage) in the win.
By Connor Greenlee