Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Rangers

Madison Square Garden: home of the Rangers, Knicks, countless historic music performances and the site where Red Jesus resurrected a poor Capitals performance into one of the season's biggest wins.

It's also the arena that is home to Jose Theodore's season-changing performance, quite possibly the most important game of his career as a Capital thus far.

After allowing three goals on five shots, Theodore was pulled. Johnson ended up having an injury at the end of the first, which put Theo back in the net for the remainder of the game. His second- and third-period performances were polar opposites of his piss-poor first.

Rangers fans probably haven't forgotten that game. When you give up five unanswered goals after scoring four, you tend to be a bit sour. But Rangers fans will also likely be sour over their team's play of late.

The Rangers are on a five-game losing streak, one which included a 10-2 beat-down courtesy of the Dallas Stars. The Rangers, who at one time commanded the Atlantic Division, are now fighting for second place with the Flyers.

The Rangers are no slouch of a team, but the Capitals have a horrible tendency to play down to their opponents. Will the Capitals play like the dominant team we know they can be? Or will we be forced to watch another Los Angeles Kings-esq effort?

Washington Capitals (34-16-4, first in SE, second in EC, last game 3-1 win over Florida)
New York Rangers (29-20-5, third in ATL, sixth in EC, last game 3-0 loss to New Jersey)

Key Players
WSH: Hey, why not Mike Green? He's on the verge of tying a defenseman goal-scoring record for most consecutive games with a goal (6). He's been the catalyst for the Capitals offense of late and he's making himself a Norris Trophy candidate even if the analysts are still snubbing him. MSG is a big stage, and guys like Mike Green tend to shine on them.
NYR: The New York Rangers are losing because they simply aren't generating any offense. With only six goals in their last five games, the Rangers will need to look to Scott Gomez to get the team out of the slump.

The Capitals have a 3-0 lead on the Rangers in the season series and are riding a five-game win streak in matches between the two clubs.

Over under on a rematch?
The most famous Capitals fight this season occured between the Rangers and Capitals. Tonight, Semin is in Staal's barn and the Rangers crowd wants blood...


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