The Capitals and New York Rangers have played a lot of meaningful games in the past. With Washington hoping to repeat as Cup champs and the Rangers in the midst of a rebuild, however, these two teams are headed in different directions. In the wake of Friday’s game against the first place New York Islanders, Sunday’s game may seem like it doesn’t mean much by comparison, but don’t tell the players that.
The Caps and Rangers met one week ago on Sunday in Washington in what was a very physical, contentious affair. It sure didn’t look like a meaningless game between a contender and a team ready to sell of its top players at the deadline, it looked like two rivals duking it out because they desperately did not want to lose.
It didn’t take long for things to get physical.
chirp chirp pic.twitter.com/R5pQAP0ogU— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 24, 2019
It wasn’t just Tom Wilson eiter. Everyone was getting into the mix over the course of the game.
Easy now, Henrik. pic.twitter.com/DOYLdqZ9kG— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 24, 2019
Copley ain't afraid to throw hands 😂 pic.twitter.com/m8kGkwQE1N— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 24, 2019
Well that escalated quickly pic.twitter.com/Vs3M7XVSse— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 24, 2019
We see you throwin' down, Batya pic.twitter.com/01sFVyfA1c— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 24, 2019
The Caps finally emerged from the fisticuffs with the 6-5 overtime win which should only add fuel to the rivalry fire on Sunday. This time it will be the Caps on the road to face the Rangers (12:30 p.m., NBC).
Buckle up. It’s going to be a rough game.
This isn’t Ottawa
Like the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers were major sellers at the trade deadline, but don’t take that to mean the Caps will blow through New York as easily as they handled the Senators on Tuesday.
The Rangers traded Kevin Hayes and Adam McQuiad on Monday, one day after New York fell in Washington. Neither of those players played in Sunday’s game. The Rangers elected to sit both players to protect them as trade assets. The Caps are not going to play a bare bones roster, they are going to play largely the same roster that scored five goals against them and forced overtime.
Fifteen of the Caps’ 18 skaters on Sunday recorded points. Newcomers Carl Hagelin and Nick Jensen were two of the only three players held without a point. In fact, neither player has been able to hit the scoresheet yet for Washington.
That’s not to say either player is not playing well, they are. The fourth line has looked dominant since Hagelin was added and Jensen looks to be as good as advertised in terms of skating and breakout passes on the blue line. If Sunday is another big day for the Caps’ offense, one of them is due to get their first point for Washington.
With their win Friday, the Caps pulled even with the New York Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division with 81 points. The Islanders technically remain in first place as they have a game in hand. Both team are back in action on Sunday. New York will host the Philadelphia Flyers at 3 p.m. If the Caps beat the Rangers, they will at the very least remain tied for first. A Caps win and an Islanders loss would see Washington take sole possession of first place for the first time since Jan. 15.
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