What would usually be an NHL marquee matchup, Wednesday’s game between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals is really just a battle between two outsiders looking in. Both teams are off to a very unexpected slow start to the season. Perhaps a meeting between the two is just what the doctor ordered, for the Capitals at least.
With their defense well off their game and missing Rick Nash due to injury, the Rangers have been outscored 25 goals to nine, and their problems on the road may not be coming to a halt just yet. Although the Rangers most likely spent a day or two at home during a break in their nine-game season opening road trip, they will still be in tough against a Capitals team that needs to win just as badly as the Rangers do.
The Caps’ disappointing 2-4 start to the season comes as a surprise to many since Alexander Ovechkin has been on fire. He’s put up six goals and three assists in six games, but still hasn’t gotten much help from his teammates in the Nation’s Capital. The Capitals understand that this game against an absolutely defeated Rangers team should be in the palms of their hands as long as they manage to get some production from someone else alongside Ovechkin.
However, halfway through Tuesday’s practice, the Capitals found out they may have to figure out a plan B.
According to the Washington Post, Ovechkin left practice early on Tuesday saying that he wasn’t feeling 100 percent. There’s been no word of his status for the game against New York, but you would have to think that this is still bad news for Capitals fans.
The rest of the team, while doing a good job of feeding Ovechkin the puck, isn’t stepping up at all. Mikhail Grabovski has looked solid over the first six games, scoring three goals and assisting on three more, but without Ovechkin in the lineup, he could potentially slow down.
Luckily for the Capitals, they get to host a somewhat homeless Rangers team that has done everything but play good hockey so far this season. Without Nash in the mix, it’s been a tough last few games for Brad Richards and the rest of the team. Look for their woes to continue as long as they are on the road.
Until they get their defense figured out and new coach Alain Vigneault gets a handle on the situation, the Rangers could very well get blown out by the Capitals and continue to have a dismal start to their 2013-14 NHL campaign.