The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers are set to square off tomorrow night at the Verizon Center. This will be the first time that they will meet as members of the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals and Rangers are both off to slow starts this season, though the Rangers are off to a much slower start than the Capitals. Through 5 games, the Rangers record is just 1-4-0. Here’s how their last 5 games have gone:
- Lost 4-1 to Phoenix
- Won 3-1 vs LA
- Lost 9-2 vs San Jose
- Lost 6-0 vs Anaheim
- Lost 5-3 vs St Louis
To put it nicely… YIKES. To give you a further idea of how bad the Rangers have been so far this season, the Washington Capitals, despite all their woes, still have a semi-respectable -5 goal differential. The Rangers’ goal differential? -16.
So why have the Rangers been so bad? Like the Washington Capitals, they’ve been especially terrible during 5-on-5 situations. Except they’ve been even worse than the Capitals.
Goals for (5-on-5):
Goals against (5-on-5)
Shots for/shots against (5-on-5)
WAS: 127/121 (+6)
NYR: 96/134 (-38)
Keep in mind the Rangers have played one less game than the Capitals. I think one reason the Rangers have allowed so many goals so far this season has to do with their defensive scheme. The past few years under John Tortorella, New York’s defensive scheme has almost exclusively been man-to-man. Tortorella’s replacement, Alain Vigneault, has switched their defensive scheme to almost exclusively zone. That is a very hard transition to make, as most defensemen are good at one and struggle at the other.
Keys to Victory:
- Capitals Power Play– The Rangers have a deadly combination: a tendency to commit penalties and a sub-par penalty kill. The Capitals will get power play opportunities, and the Capitals must take advantage of them to force the Rangers to have to try to play from behind.
- Get ready for physical play– The Rangers, as they have always been, are a very physical team. Luckily, the Capitals are a physical team too. Expect both teams to rack up a ton of hits.
- Play disciplined– The Rangers like to try to “bait” their opponents into taking stupid penalties. The Capitals have been fairly disciplined so far, but they must not give in.
- Defense, defense, defense- The Capitals defense has been very inconsistent so far this year. We saw the good Capitals defense against the Oilers. Seeing that same defense against the Rangers will definitely help the Capitals’ chances of winning.
Should be a good game. Game starts at 8:00 and will be shown on NBCSN.