NHL on NBCSN: Capitals can clinch Presidents’ Trophy against Rangers
NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Washington Capitals host the New York Rangers at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.
The Washington Capitals have had a terrific regular season, but there’s only one thing left for them to do before the playoffs begin.
A Caps win or loss in overtime would clinch their second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy title. Last year, they did it by collecting 120 points. They could equal that mark this season if they win their final three games.
Finishing at the top of the Metropolitan Division could be huge in 2016-17, as it means you’d avoid the Penguins and Blue Jackets, who will be forced to battle each other in the opening round. If the playoffs started today, Washington would take on Toronto, who they beat 4-1 last night.
Because they have a five-point cushion on the second-place Penguins, the Capitals can afford to rest some players. Defenseman John Carlson was a late scratch in yesterday’s contest. He’s dealing with a lower-body injury and he’ll sit out tonight too.
“It’s nothing serious at all,” Coach Barry Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “Where we are right now, we just felt, let’s not put anything at risk and let everybody heal.”
Nate Schmidt, who take Carlson’s spot in the lineup against Toronto, managed to find the back of the net in the victory.
The Rangers are locked into the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, which means they’ll head to Montreal when the playoffs begin next week.
In the meantime, they won’t worry about finishing off the season on a high-note, they’re just interested in getting healthy.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault has already said that he’ll be resting Rick Nash, Jesper Fast, Mats Zuccarello and Ryan McDonagh tonight.
“Right now, the four guys that weren’t on the ice are all day to day,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post. “They’ve all been playing through certain bumps and bruises. So we can at this time give them a couple days here. Not exactly sure how things are going to unfold, but they are day to day.”
At least none of these injuries seems to be serious.
The Rangers come into this game on a bit of a slide. They’re coming off a 4-3 win over the Flyers on Sunday night, but they’ve collected just three victories in their last 10 contests.