Dan Wetzel:

NHL on NBCSN: Caps host reeling Rangers on Rivalry Night


NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Washington Capitals host the New York Rangers at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

It’s safe to assume the New York Rangers didn’t envision the start of the season like this. Through their first five games, all on the road, they have just one win (1-4-0). In those losses they’ve allowed an average of six goals per game including a 9-2 loss to San Jose that saw rookie Tomas Hertl score four times.

For new head coach Alain Vigneault, it’s been a rough introduction to life as the Rangers’ boss. More importantly, it’s been a disturbing start for star goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Lundqvist sporting a goals-against average over 4.00 and a save percentage under .900 will give anyone’s head a shake and worse still, they’ll be hurting for offense with Rick Nash out with a concussion. That sets up for a potential rough night against a Capitals team that has reigning MVP Alex Ovechkin leading the way.

Ovechkin’s start to the season has been strong having scored six goals with nine points through the team’s first six games. Centers Nicklas Backstrom (8) and Mikhail Grabovski (6) have been right there with Ovechkin on the point production as well.

Goaltending hasn’t been Washington’s strong point to start the season either, but they’ve had better production with 17 goals compared to New York’s 10. If nothing else, that puts the onus more on Lundqvist to play strong tonight to save his team from yet another road loss. With Brad Richards and Derek Stepan providing the only consistent offensive punch, King Henrik will need to seize the throne.

These two teams have met in the postseason in four of the past five seasons. They should have each other’s strengths and weaknesses down pat.

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