The New York Rangers didn’t want to be the first win for the New Jersey Devils, but that’s what happened last night in Newark. The Rangers struck first with the first goal, but the Devils controlled the rest of the game, all the way to a 5-2 victory. Despite failing to win a game in their first four games, the Devils finally got a game to go their way Thursday night. A four-game sample size is awfully small, and it’s the start of the regular season, so we’re going to have to wait and see with the Devils. It could have been a better effort by the Rangers, but the Devils had to win eventually.
The Rangers get no time to sit back and dwell on the game, because they will be straight back out on the ice Friday night. They’ll be in Washington at Capitol One Arena to challenge the Capitals. The Rangers will be back home for five games following tonight, so that’s something to look forward to. They looked rather sloppy their last two outings, with losses against the Oilers and then Devils last night. The Rangers were outscored 9-3 in their previous two games after wins in their first two games of the season.
Washington are feeling good after they dispatched the Maple Leafs by a score of 4-3 on Wednesday. They got behind early, 2-0, but struck for 4 unanswered goals to capture a 1-goal win. The Leafs added a late goal to draw close, though the damage was already done against Michael Hutchinson.
They go into Friday with a record of 4-2-2. The win against Toronto was only their second in six games, so it hasn’t been smooth sailing for them most recently. Henrik Lundqvist has been confirmed as the starting netminder for the Rangers tonight. Braden Holtby is probable for the Capitals. He’s feeling the pressure from Ilya Samsonov who has been the better goaltender of the two thus far. Head below for our free Rangers vs. Capitals pick.
N.Y. Rangers vs. Washington Capitals Pick
22-year-old Ilya Samsonov has been coming on strong for the Capitals between the pipes. The Capitals might be tempted to usher in the Samsonov era and test the market for Holtby in a trade at the deadline. If Holtby were to continue to struggle this badly, though, there might not be much of a market for him. He’s been shaky with a 4.27 GAA and 0.846 save percentage in five appearances.
Conversely, Samsonov owns a 1.84 GAA and 0.93 save percentage. The Caps have to be careful and not give up on Holtby too quickly which could kill his confidence. But after what Jordan Binnington did for the Blues as a rookie last season, the Capitals’ brass have to be looking at that and believing that Samsonov could do the same for them.
At the end of the day, Holtby must be much better in net for the Capitals.The same could be said about Lundqvist, who is nearing the end of his career. He wants to stay in New York and the Rangers can’t do anything with him because of his no-trade clause. Lundqvist hasn’t been as bad as Holtby, but he’s been struggling as well.
The 37-year-old holds a 3.53 GAA and 0.904 save percentage going into Washington on Friday night. Georgiev was between the pipes for the Rangers last night, so it’s automatic that Lundqvist will in net against the Caps. The Rangers are 23rd in the league with 3.26 goals allowed per game. Conversely, the Caps are in the top-5 offensively with 3.34 goals per game.
That’s to be expected from Washington. Against Lundqvist and a tired blue line, the Capitals shouldn’t have any issues finding the switch to turn the red light on. The way Holtby is playing is concerning, though, and laying that much juice or selecting the puckline seems like a dangerous option. Consider a play on the OVER instead tonight.