NHL on NBCSN: Capitals face Rangers, who aim to take Metro’s top spot

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Washington Capitals host the New York Rangers at Verizon Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Even with some bumps and bruises, one would think that the Washington Capitals carry some advantages into Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers are coming off a 2-1 win versus the New York Islanders as they sent off their local rivals’ old building (barring a playoff series) on Tuesday. The Capitals, meanwhile, haven’t played a game since Saturday’s throttling of the Buffalo Sabres.

Washington also plays the third contest of a five-game homestand, so there are some pretty clear points in the Caps’ favor.

Then again, the Rangers have proven to be a pretty hearty group, especially lately. With last night’s win, they’re now 20-10-2 on the road, which is a comparable record to Washington’s 19-9-5 home mark.

The Rangers are in a prime position as far as the race for the Metropolitan Division’s top spot goes.

While the Islanders sit at No. 1 with 90 points, the Rangers are just one point behind with four games in hand. They also boast some nice advantages over the Pittsburgh Penguins (who have three fewer standings points after playing one extra game).

Washington is fairly comfortably placed in the East’s top wild card spot, although a streak or two could force them to swap WC spots with the Boston Bruins.

In other words, neither team is outright desperate, but both have plenty to gain from winning this one.

While there are some game-time decisions that could affect matters (will Mike Green and/or Brooks Orpik sit this one out? Shall New York lean on Cam Talbot again?), one thing we should see a showcase of Maurice Richard Trophy hopefuls. Rick Nash scored his 39th goal of the season off of a fortunate-yet-impressive game-winner on Tuesday, but he has a ways to go to catch Alex Ovechkin’s league-leading 44 tallies.

(Meanwhile, Nicklas Backstrom approaches a Capitals franchise assist record … although he’s also a game-time decision due to an illness, according to the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt.)

Both the Rangers and Capitals have generally maintained a high level of play lately, so this could serve as a solid barometer for each squad.

The two teams only met one time so far this season; the Rangers won 4-2 at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 23.