The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers are both looking to get back on track after suffering back-to-back losses. The Capitals lost back-to-back outings at home against rival the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the absence of John Carlson and Alexander Ovechkin, the Penguins took advantage with a 5-4 win in overtime, and an easier time on Saturday, 3-0.
Bryan Rust scored twice, while Jeff Carter contributed with a goal to clear Ilya Samsonov and the Caps by three goals. Prior to the losses, the Capitals were on a three-game winning streak, and they’re in a pretty good position with a record of 32-14-5 and 69 points. They trail the Penguins by two points for the lead in the East Division of the NHL standings.
Fortunately, the Capitals aren’t dealing with long-term injuries to Ovechkin and Carlson. Ovechkin and Carlson are both questionable to play against the Rangers tonight, but they should be good to go for the playoffs. It’s more important for the Capitals to have a healthy Ovi and Carlson in the postseason than earning the No. 1 seed in the division.
When it comes to the Rangers, they’re 26-20-6 going into the final week and have faint playoff hopes. It’s an unlikely road to the playoffs for the Rangers. The top-four teams will reach the playoffs from each division. The Rangers are 8 points behind the Bruins, so they’d need some kind of miracle and collapse by Boston and stay perfect the rest of the regular season.
The Rangers are coming off a couple of lackluster performances against the Islanders. There was little effort from the Rangers, as they struggled in a 4-0 and 3-0 loss. Failing to show up to play against the Islanders’ defence isn’t going to work out well. That’s what happened against the Islanders, as they just grinded away on the Rangers to put them in a big hole as far as the playoffs are concerned. Head below for our free Capitals vs. Rangers pick on May 3, 2021.
Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers NHL Betting Odds:
Capitals vs. Rangers Prediction:
The Capitals could need Ovechkin and Carlson back in the lineup tonight, but there isn’t any reason to rush them back if they’re not at optimal health. Washington still has a capable lineup with Nicklas Backstrom, T. J. Oshie, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. The Capitals also added former Red Wing, Anthony Mantha, to the fold at the trade deadline. But, yes, missing Ovechkin and Carlson is obviously a big deal for the Capitals.
They are not going to need to be healthy and in prime form to make a deep run to the Stanley Cup Final. The Capitals are second in the league with 3.4 goals scored per game. Their goal efficiency is impressive mainly because of Ovechkin. The Capitals are 25th in the league with 28.8 shots per game, but make good on a lot of their opportunities. When Ovechkin unloads at the top of the circle, the opposition just has to hold their breath and hope for the best. That quick release is likely not going to be present against the Rangers tonight.
Vitek Vancecek is listed as probably in the crease for the Capitals. Vanecek is in his first year in the NHL and has done an average job. There hasn’t been anything bad or very good to say about the guy, but for a 25-year-old, he’s open to improvement in the coming seasons. Vanecek goes into Madison Square Garden with a 2.75 GAA and 0.908 save percentage. He’s coming off a poor performance against the Penguins, though, allowing 5 goals on 35 shots for a 0.857 save percentage. Note that Vanecek has conceded at least 4 goals in three of his last four outings.
Igor Shesterkin is expected to get the nod for the Rangers. Shesterkin has established himself as the go-to option for the Rangers in net. He owns a 2.44 GAA and 0.92 save percentage through 32 games in 2021. He’s made three starts against the Capitals and has performed well in all of them. Shesterkin hasn’t allowed more than 2 goals against the Caps. Overall in his career, Shesterkin has been locked on with a 1.67 GAA and 0.946 save percentage. Vanecek has a 2.80 GAA and 0.902 save percentage in four appearances versus the Rangers.
The Capitals have been good on the road this season, but haven’t been too enthused about going to Madison Square Garden. They are 0-4 in their last four trips to NYC, and overall, the Rangers have matched up well against the Capitals with six wins in their previous eight outings. Home ice has typically ruled, though, with the home team going 7-2 in their last nine. At home this season, the Rangers have scored 3.5 goals while allowing 2.65 goals against per game. Despite their playoff hopes slim, the Rangers likely get up to play a team they do not like. The Capitals have to be more concerned with staying healthy, and not going balls to the walls after clinching. The Rangers at even money at home are worth considering.