Metropolitan Division rivals meet on Wednesday night, as the New York Rangers visit the Washington Capitals on NBCSN. The Rangers are going to finish in the top Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Capitals are probably going to finish with the league’s best record. This is a great matchup on Wednesday, as the Rangers have the best road record in the league at 27-12, while the Capitals have the best home record at 31-8.
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The Capitals are going to be listed as home favorites in this game, but it is not a good scheduling spot for them. Washington will be playing their third game in four days and with no rest, as they were in Toronto on Tuesday night. It is also the sixth game in the last eight days for Washington.
The Rangers have a much softer scheduling spot, as they will have had two days off to get ready for this game after playing at home against the Flyers on Sunday.
The Rangers are 12th in the league on the power play at 20% and they are 4th in the league in goals per game at 3.1 per contest. The problem for New York is penalty killing as they are 23rd at 79.4%. They are also just 13th in goals against at 2.6 per contest and lately the defense has been poor.
“It is really curious how we went from being a really strong defensive team for 60 games to playing the way we are now,” Derek Stepan said recently. “I don’t know the reason behind it. But I do know we’re working extremely hard as a group to correct it.”
The Capitals are very good in almost all areas. They are 3rd on the power play at 23.6% and they are 2nd in the league in goals per game at 3.2 per contest. Washington is 7th in penalty killing at 84% and they are first in the league in goals allowed at 2.2 per game.
I mentioned earlier that the Rangers have a great spot as they have already wrapped up a playoff spot and they have had two days off to get ready for this game.
The Capitals are still trying to clinch the top record in the Metropolitan Division and the best record in the league. The playoffs are everything for the Capitals who have never won the Stanley Cup. Head coach Barry Trotz is aware of the lack of playoff success but he doesn’t let it consume him.
“Everybody brings the past up, and to me it’s absolutely annoying,” he said. “The past is done. You can’t change it. It’s the past. All you can do is take care of business in the present. We can’t help what happened five years ago. We can’t help what happened last year. Move on.”
The question in this one is whether or not the Capitals will have already clinched the top spot before this game begins. Even if the Capitals have something to play for, this is still a brutal spot playing with no rest. Washington finishes the regular season with a back-to- back as they are at Boston on Saturday and home against Florida on Sunday.
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The Capitals broke a three-game losing streak in this series by winning 4-1 in New York in late February. New York has won three of the last four in Washington with three of the four going over the total.
I think the situation dictates a play on the Rangers, so I will take New York in this contest.
NHL Odds: Rangers 3, Capitals 2
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