Opponent: Washington Capitals (12-7-1)
Leading Scorer: Niklas Backstrom (7-16-23)
Goaltender: Tomas Vokoun (2.66 GAA, .910 SV%)
Rangers Projected Lines (projected):
Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.
Preview: The Caps are a bit of an enigma. They won their first eight games to start the season, lighting up opponents in the process. Since then they have gone just 4-7-1, but they have won their past two games. The problem with the Caps is that Bruce Boudreau is simply over-relying on defense with a team that is not built to rely on defense to win. Playing two way hockey is one thing, but turning the Caps into a 1-2-2 hybrid trapping team is just a bad idea. They need to stick with their 2-1-2 forecheck to be effective. Boudreau’s main gripe with the forwards is that they don’t backcheck, and they generally hang the defense out to dry. Backchecking is something Stanley Cup winning teams do. That said, it doesn’t look like switching systems as a response is the best idea in the world.
What the Rangers don’t have going for them is their puck possession numbers. The Caps when given the room, can destroy opposing defenses, especially one without Marc Staal. It doesn’t matter what type of forecheck/trap the Caps bring, if the Caps control the play, they will light the Rangers up. Of course puck possession has been a bit of an issue since the departure of the Straka-Nylander-Jagr connection though.
Crazy Thought: Dubinsky gets a Gordie Howe hat trick.
Opponent’s Blog: Japers Rink
Today’s game is on at 4:00pm on MSG, AM1050, and XM214.