Pregame Analysis

Rangers Complete Back-to-Back in Washington

               After a night to forget in New Jersey, the Blueshirts look for a quick turnaround against the Washington Capitals (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).

               The Rangers fell to 2-2 after suffering their second consecutive defeat Thursday night to the New Jersey Devils. Like the first three games this season, the Rangers scored the first goal of the game for the fourth straight time. Tony DeAngelo opened the scoring in the first period to give the well-rested Rangers a 1-0 lead. The Devils would respond with three straight goals, including Jack Hughes getting his first career point. Jesper Fast recorded his first of the season early in the third to give the Rangers hope. However, Nikita Gusev would restore the two-goal lead and P.K. Subban would follow up with an empty net goal to give the Devils their first win of the season.

               The Blueshirts power play was not as effective as previous games as they went 0-6 against a penalty kill that was struggling to enter the game. Meanwhile, the Rangers were undisciplined and took seven penalties.

“That’s a big part of the game, and you want to capitalize on some of those power plays,” said Jacob Trouba. Trouba led the Rangers in ice time with over 27 minutes played.

“The good news is, we get to play more hockey,” said head coach David Quinn. “It’s tough to emulate it in practice. We’re going to be able to draw from today and be better at it tomorrow.”

After playing just four games in the season’s first 17 days, the Rangers will be back at it Friday night in Washington to complete their first back-to-back of the season.

“We want to play hockey games,” Quinn said. “It’s the only way you can really get better in this league, and it’s really the only way to get in shape. When the season gets going, you work hard during games, you’re going to get in better shape. No matter what we do in practice to emulate a game, it’s just not game-like.

After sitting last night, Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in goal for the Rangers. Lundqvist possesses a 1-1 record and he will make his third start of the season. Lundqvist is just four wins behind Curtis Joseph for fifth on the all time wins list for goalies.

“You try and you try and the best you can to stay sharp in practice, keep that intensity high, and the focus,” said Lundqvist. “But you definitely need to get out and play now and get into the rhythm.

Braden Holtby will get the start for the Capitals. Holtby holds a record of 1-1-2 with a 4.27 goals against average and a save percentage of .846. Holtby is in a contract year and has been feeling early pressure from backup goalie Ilya Samsonov. Samsonov is 22-years-old and was a first-round pick in 2015.

While the Capitals have their star forwards including Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie, none of them lead the team in points. The Rangers will have to keep a close eye on defenseman John Carlson. Carlson has 14 points in eight games and is third in the NHL in scoring. Carlson has only failed to go without a point in one game season and the 29-year-old has recorded multiple points in five games. 

Brendan Lemieux, who did not play in Thursday’s game, was said to be a coaching decision and not because of illness. Lemieux will likely draw back into the lineup against the Capitals in place of Michael Haley. Expect the rest of the lines to stay intact.

Projected Lineup

Panarin-Zibanejad-Buchnevich

Kreider-Howden-Kakko

Smith-Strome-Fast

Lemieux-Andersson-McKegg

Hajek-Trouba

Staal-DeAngelo

Skjei-Fox

Lundqvist

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