When the Washington Capitals host the New York Rangers Sunday afternoon (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), both teams will be looking to shrug off recent setbacks.
To an extent, the Capitals and Rangers are similar stories this season. Both got off to disappointing starts given the standards they’re held to and each team has been surging lately.
In the case of Washington, Alex Ovechkin’s recent contributions can’t be understated.
He’s taken a lot of heat over the last few years, but has seven goals and 17 points in his last 15 games. The Russian star has been particularly effective with the man advantage, which is part of the reason why the Capitals lead the Eastern Conference with a 26.6 power-play percentage.
“There’s predictability, but if we execute it I don’t think it can be stopped,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said of their power-play efforts in a CSN Washington report.
“It’s like Tom Brady. He gets the ball 50 times, right? He gets five reads and you trust Tom Brady can make the correct read out of the five.”
The Rangers have been one of the most disciplined teams in the league, so Washington might not get many opportunities in that regard. On top of that, Ovechkin will be countered by Rick Nash, who is riding a nine-game point streak.
This will also be defenseman Roman Hamrlik’s first game against the Washington Capitals since he was claimed by the New York Rangers. The 38-year-old veteran of 1,385 NHL games was listed as a healthy scratch in 16 out of 20 contests with the Capitals this season before finally being put on waivers.
Washington desperately needs every point they can get after digging a sizable hole for themselves earlier this season. However, this game is equally valuable for the Rangers, who have the most tenuous of holds on the eighth seed.
Probable goaltenders: NYR – Henrik Lundqvist (11-8-1, 2.24 GAA, .921 SV%) | WSH – Braden Holtby (9-7-0, 2.87 GAA, .911 SV%)
Top scorers: NYR – Nash (9-12-21, 19 GP) | WSH – Mike Ribeiro (9-19-28, 23 GP)
New York – Forwards: Arron Asham (back) Defensemen: Marc Staal (eye), Michael Sauer (concussion)
Washington – Forwards: Marcus Johansson (upper body), Brooks Laich (groin) Defensemen: John Erskine (upper body), Mike Green (groin), Jack Hillen (shoulder) Goaltenders: Michal Neuvirth (illness)