November 3 – Day 28 – If the capital had stayed in New York, would the Rangers be the Capitals?

The Blackhawks took advantage of the Los Angeles Kings only managing two goals in the first period to claim a 4-2 victory last night.

Chicago opened the scoring after six minutes of play when Ryan Garbutt and Artemi Panarin assisted Jonathan Toews to his fifth goal of the season.  The Kings tied the game 8:38 later when Kyle Clifford and Second Star of the Game Jake Muzzin assisted Alec Martinez to his first goal of the year.  4:04 later, the Kings took their only lead of the night when Muzzin and Trevor Lewis assisted Anze Kopitar to his fourth of the season.  The 2-1 Kings lead held through both intermissions.

The Blackhawks finally tied the game after 1:22 passed in the third with a First Star Patrick Kane goal, assisted by Brent Seabrook and Viktor Svedberg.  The game-winner came 7:40 later when Kane and Artem Anisimov assisted Teuvo Teravainen to his third tally of the year.  Anisimov added a shorty for insurance, assisted by Toews, with 1:33 remaining in the game.

Second Star Corey Crawford earned his sixth win of the season by saving 33 of 35 (94.3%), while Jonathan Quick’s record fell to 6-4-0 after he saved only 22 of 26 (84.6%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 17-7-3, favoring the home team by 15 points.

It’s a busy nine-game Tuesday night in the league, especially in comparison to the three games played yesterday.  The action gets started at 7 p.m. eastern when three opening pucks drop (Dallas at Boston, New Jersey at the New York Islanders and Washington at the New York Rangers [TVAS]), followed half an hour later by two more games (Ottawa at Montréal and Tampa Bay at Detroit).  Starting at 8:30 p.m. eastern is the Los Angeles at St. Louis game (NBCSN), followed half an hour later by two more matchups (Calgary at Colorado and Philadelphia at Edmonton).  Finally, at 10:30 p.m. eastern, the nightcap of the evening begins when Columbus visits San Jose in The Tank.

Some notes on tonight’s games:

  • Four of tonight’s games are divisional rivalries (New Jersey at the Isles, Washington at the Blueshirts, Ottawa at Montréal and Tampa Bay at Detroit).
  • Four are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Dallas at Boston, New Jersey at the Isles, Washington at the Blueshirts and Los Angeles at St. Louis).
  • Washington at the Blueshirts is an Eastern Conference Semifinals rematch from last season, and Ottawa at Montréal and Tampa Bay at Detroit is an Eastern Conference Quarterfinals rematch.

The only game that qualifies for all three lists will attract my attention this evening, as the Capitals travel up I-95 for their date with the Rangers.

Washington Capitals LogoNew York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning with the 8-2-0 road team, we find a squad that is living up to expectations on both ends of the ice.  The forwards have been scoring and the defenders and goalies have been keeping the opposition off the board to give the Capitals first place in the Metropolitan division and second in the Eastern Conference, albeit through a tiebreaker or two over tonight’s opposition.  They are currently riding a two-game win streak, with their most recent victory a 2-1 overtime game over Florida on Halloween.

On the offensive end of the ice, the Caps have put 296 shots on goal, led by Alex Ovechkin’s 41.  Although it is 34 fewer than the league average, you wouldn’t know it when you look at their 34 goals, which leads the league average by four tallies.  Put those together and you get an 11.5% shot percentage that leads the league average by a considerable 2.4%.  Especially spectacular has been the Washington power play, as they’ve scored seven goals (led by T.J. Oshie’s two) on only 29 opportunities, giving them a 24.14% success rate that dwarfs the league average by 5.26%.

On the other end of the ice, the Capitals have been just as strong.  Only 248 shots have made it to 6-2-0 Braden Holtby and his backup Philipp Grubauer, thanks in part to Karl Alzner’s 22 blocks.  With a save percentage of 91.9%, only 23 shots have become goals, a total that trails the league average by seven tallies.  The defense has especially clamped down when facing a man-advantage, as they’ve only allowed four goals (three less than the average hockey team) and killed 87.88% of attempts, 6.76% more than the NHL average.

Their opposition, the 7-2-2 New York Rangers, are also having a successful season so far.  They currently own second in the Metropolitan Division and third in the Eastern Conference due to losing a tiebreaker with the Caps.  While the offense has been good this season, the defense has certainly been better.  They also enter tonight’s game on a two-game win streak, with their most recent game ending in a 3-1 victory over Toronto on October 30.

342 shots have made their way to 5-2-2 Henrik Lundqvist and 2-0-0 Antti Raanta, and they’ve collectively saved 94.7% of those attempts, allowing only 21 goals on the season, a total that bests the league average by nine goals.  Just like Washington, the Blueshirts have stepped up their game when they need to, as they’ve only allowed four power play goals so far this season for a penalty kill rate of 87.88% (6.76% better than the league average).

The offense has 320 shots to their credit, and has converted 9.7% of those attempts for 31 goals.  While that is one goal over the league average, they’ve had to do it the hard way as they only have four power play goals to their credit after 28 opportunities.  Their 14.29% success rate trails the league average by 4.59%.

Last season, New York won the regular season series 3-1-0, and they followed it up with a Game 7 victory in the Conference Semifinals to eventually lose to the Bolts in the Conference Finals.

New York is favored at -125 coming into the game.  I still haven’t decided who I think is going to win, as I think Washington is the better team, but the Rangers do have the advantage of playing at home.  This game will be a good litmus test of the top of the Metropolitan division.

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