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Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.
|O 6 (+105)
|New York Rangers||-1.5
|U 6 (-125)
The Washington Capitals will face the surging New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden. The Capitals are sitting in the first Wild Card spot with 65 points, and the Rangers are in front of them with 69 points. They would inch within two points of the Rangers’ third-place spot with a win. However, the Capitals have played two more games than the Rangers.
The Washington Capitals have been mediocre lately. They are 5-5 over their last ten games and have ten losses in the 22 games they have played since the NHL returned from postponement. The Capitals have some very effective players in veteran winger Alexander Ovechkin, center Evgeny Kuznetsov, and defenseman John Carlson. Ovechkin maybe 36 years old, but he leads his team in points (62) and goals (31). Kuznetsov is not as productive as Ovechkin, but he has 33 assists, and Carlson leads the Capitols in TOI (23:49) and has 30 assists. The Capitals’ big flaw is goaltending. Their goaltending duo of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek is mediocre, and neither goalie has a significant advantage over the other.
The New York Rangers have a talented roster, and their record reflects that. However, they sometimes struggle to score and average under three goals a game. Even though they do not score too much, they have a couple of players who can score. Winger Chris Kreider leads the Rangers with 33 goals. He has become especially dominant on the power-play and has 17 power-play goals. Center Mika Zibanejad can also score, even though he has taken on more of a passing role. He is second on the Rangers with 19 goals. The main reasons the Rangers are winning are their defense and goaltending. Adam Fox leads that defense and is widely considered one of the best defenseman in the NHL. In goal, they have Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin has 24 wins in 32 starts and only allows 2.01 goals per game. The Rangers have home-ice advantage and stronger goaltending, so I will pick them to win this game 3-2.
New York Rangers beat Washington Capitals 3-2. Washington Capitals cover, Over 6.5 goals.
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|Washington Capitals||Head-to-Head||New York Rangers|
|Peter Laviolette||Head Coach||Gerald Gallant|
|28-15-9 (4th in Metropolitan Division)||Standing||32-12-3 (3rd in Metropolitan Division)|
|Alex Ovechkin (62)||Points||Artemi Panarin (55)|
|Alex Ovechkin (31)||Goals||Chris Kreider (33)|
|Evgeny Kuznetsov (33)||Assists||Artemi Panarin (41)|
|Nick Jensen (24)||+/-||Ryan Lindgren (16)|
|Alex Ovechkin (4.5)||Shots (Per Game)||Chris Kreider (3.18)|
The Capitals are the underdogs in this matchup, but they can pull out a road win if they avoid committing penalties and look for second-chance shots.
The New York Rangers have the third-best power-play unit in the league. They convert on over 26% of their power-plays. This is mainly in part to Chris Kreider; Kreider has 17 of the Rangers’ 38 power-play goals. If the Capitals avoid committing penalties, they will not allow the Rangers to have man advantages and will limit their scoring opportunities.
The Capitals will likely be going up against Igor Shesterkin in goal. Shesterkin has proven himself a dominant netminder. Since he is so dominant, the Capitals have to crowd the net and look for second-chance shots. They may be able to get a goal or two that way.
The Rangers are the favorite and for good reason; they are playing at home and have the better roster. However, they still need to focus on limiting the Capitols’ shots and slowing down Alexander Ovechkin.
The Capitals shoot 31.2 times per game. That is not an outrageous number of shots; however, it is more than the Rangers average. Since that is the case, the Rangers defense needs to limit their shots to give themselves a better chance.
Alex Ovechkin is still really impressive in what are probably the final years of his career. He has 31 goals and 31 assists in over 21 minutes a game. Ovechkin is a scorer and a playmaker, which makes him so dangerous. The Rangers need to slow him down and force him to take bad shots.
Winger Artemi Panarin is not much of a scorer. He shoots a lot, but he only has 14 goals. However, he is a gifted passer and has 41 assists.
Not only is Panarin a great player, but he is probably feeling hot after his last game against the Ottawa Senators. The Russian veteran had one goal and one assist in under 20 minutes on the ice.
Panarin has the hot hand right now, and I expect the Rangers to ride it.
Igor Shesterkin has the rare honor of being a goaltender selected as the key player. Shesterkin was not named to the All-Star team, but he is having an impressive season.
Shesterkin has been a huge part of the Rangers’ success this season. He has the top save percentage in the NHL at 93.9% and allows the second-least goals per game at 2.01.
It cannot be understated how valuable Shesterkin is to the Rangers, which is why he is their key player.
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|Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers Information|
|What||Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers|
|Where||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York|
|When||Thursday, February 24, 7:00 PM EST|
|How to Watch||ESPN|
Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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