Washington Capitals at New York Rangers: Pregame News and Notes

So the Washington Capitals come into town tonight to take on the Rangers, and I think the thing we can all be most thankful for is that the game is not on Caps Jazeera Versus. I feel bad for any Ranger fans who live in the D.C. area and are have to watch Caps coverage. Listening to that smarmy little toad Joe Beninati is worse than fingernails on a blackboard. I'd rather drink from the same water fountain as Amy Winehouse than listen to him call a hockey game.

Anyway, Rangers need a win, it would be great to get one against the team that invented hockey.

On to the News and Notes:

NEW YORK RANGERS vs. WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Thursday, Feb. 4, 7:00 p.m. Madison Square Garden New York, NY

Rangers: 25-25-7 (57 pts.)
Capitals: 38-12-6 (82 pts.)
* All information through NHL games on Feb. 2

TONIGHT'S GAME:
The Rangers begin a three-game homestand tomorrow when they will face-off against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.).  The Blueshirts currently rank fourth in the Atlantic Division standings, and 10th in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 25-25-7 (57 pts.).  The Rangers enter tomorrow's contest having been defeated by the Los Angeles Kings, 2-1, on Tuesday at Staples Center, to wrap up their three-game Western Conference road trip with a 1-2-0 mark.  The Capitals enter the contest riding a franchise record 11-game winning streak, and have posted a 38-12-6 (82 pts.) record to rank first in the Eastern Conference.  Following tomorrow's game, the Rangers will continue their three-game homestand on Saturday, Feb. 6, vs. the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), and will conclude the homestand on Wednesday, Feb. 10, vs. the Nashville Predators (7:00 p.m.).

RANGERS PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
Prior to the game, the Blueshirts’ morning skate is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the MSG Training Center.
* Schedule and availability subject to change

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

  • TV: MSG Network
    6:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show with Al Trautwig
    7:00 p.m. - Rangers vs. Capitals
    Broadcasters: Sam Rosen (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), Al Trautwig and John Giannone (In-Game Reporters)
  • Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio
    6:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game with Kenny Albert
    7:00 p.m. - Rangers vs. Capitals
    Broadcasters: Kenny Albert (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)

RANGERS vs. CAPITALS:

  • All-Time: The Rangers are 80-81-18-5 all-time against the Capitals: 45-35-9-2 at home and 35-46-9-3 on the road.
  • 2009-10: This is the third of four meetings between the Rangers and Capitals this season, and the second at Madison Square Garden.  The Rangers own a 1-1-0 record overall thus far, and are 0-1-0 at home, following a 4-2 loss on Nov. 17 at MSG.
  • Last Season: New York was 1-2-1 against Washington in 2008-09, including a 1-0-1 mark at home.  Each of their two meetings at MSG last season went into overtime, including one shootout victory on Feb. 11 (5-4).
  • The Rangers rank 27th in the NHL at home with a record of 12-13-4 (28 pts.) in 29 games; the Capitals have posted a record of 17-9-3 (37 pts.) in 29 road games to rank second in the league
  • New York has posted a record of 6-5-3 vs. the Southeast Division; Washington has registered a 9-3-3 mark vs. the Atlantic Division
  • Henrik Lundqvist has posted a record of 1-1-0 with a 3.03 goals against average in two appearances vs. Washington this season; Lundqvist is 9-4-2 with a 2.80 goals against average and one shutout in 15 career regular season appearances vs. the Capitals
  • Marian Gaborik leads all skaters in scoring with four goals/points in two games vs. Washington this season.
  • Vinny Prospal leads the team with 27 assists and 37 points in 56 career regular season contests vs. Washington; Olli Jokinen has tallied a team-high 14 goals in 50 career regular season appearances vs. the Capitals
  • New York lists one former Capital on their roster: Donald Brashear (2006-07 - 2008-09)
  • Washington lists two former Rangers on their roster: Mike Knuble (1998-99 - 1999-00); Tom Poti (2001-02 - 2005-06)

SPECIAL TEAMS:

  • Power Play: New York ranks 21st in the NHL with a 17.1% (36-211) success rate, including a 21.2% (24-113) success rate at home to rank eighth in the league.  The Rangers have tallied four goals in 10 five-on-three (8:12) chances, and are two of five (4:30) with a four-on-three advantage.  Shorthanded goals allowed (6): 10/26 (V. Fiddler); 12/12 (P. Kaleta); 12/14 (C. Armstrong); 12/26 (B. Comeau); 1/4 (M. Hunwick); 2/2 (A. Kopitar).
  • Penalty Killing: The Rangers held the Kings scoreless in three power play opportunities (6:00) on Tuesday at Los Angeles, and are now 16-for-16 (28:12) in shorthanded situations over the last three games.  New York ranks fourth in the NHL with an 85.6% (196-229) success rate overall, and rank sixth with an 86.0% (92-107) success rate at MSG. The Rangers have surrendered five goals in 17 three-on-five (12:32) attempts, and are eight of nine (7:19) when three-on-four.  The Rangers notched a three-on-four shorthanded goal on Jan. 17 vs. Montreal, the first for the team since Oct. 25, 1996 at Florida (Adam Graves).  Shorthanded goals for (5): 10/3 (B. Dubinsky); 10/11 (D. Girardi); 11/14 (V. Prospal); 12/23 (M. Gaborik); 1/17 (B. Dubinsky).
  • Four-on-Four: New York has skated in 68 (100:21) four-on-four situations. Four-on-Four goals for (2): 10/8 (R. Callahan); 10/17 (B. Dubinsky). Four-on-Four goals allowed (6): 10/24 (M. Cammalleri); 12/9 (D. Byfuglien); 12/17 (A. MacDonald); 1/2 (R. Whitney); 1/23 (S. Gomez and M. Cammalleri).

RANGERS NOTES:

GABORIK'S WESTERN TOUR – Marian Gaborik finished the Rangers Western Conference road trip earlier this week with five goals in three games.  He kicked off the road trip by tallying his 30th goal of the season at 9:42 of the third period in Saturday's 3-2 loss at Phoenix, marking the sixth time in his nine NHL seasons he has reached the 30-goal plateau.  The last time a Ranger accomplished the feat was Jaromir Jagr, who registered 30 goals during the 2006-07 season.  Gaborik continued the Western tour by notching all three Rangers' goals in a 3-1 win at Colorado to record his first hat trick as a Blueshirt, the 10th of his career and first since posting five goals vs. the Rangers on Dec. 12, 2007, as a member of the Minnesota Wild.  It was the first hat trick by a Ranger since Chris Drury notched three goals vs. Tampa Bay on Nov. 6, 2008.  Gaborik's first goal at 13:53 of the first period was also the 250th of his career, and his 500th career NHL point.  Gaborik completed the road trip by tallying his 34th goal of the season in Tuesday's 2-1 loss at Los Angeles.  With his five goals on the three-game road trip, Gaborik now ranks fourth in the NHL overall.

NEW FACES – Forwards Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust each made their Rangers debut on Tuesday at Los Angeles after being acquired from Calgary, in exchange for Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik, earlier that morning.  Jokinen registered four shots on goal and delivered four hits in 20:34 of icetime, while Prust registered 19 penalty minutes in the contest, including one fighting major, in 7:41 of icetime.

SCORING IN THE CLUTCH – Forward Brandon Dubinsky leads the Rangers in game winning goals since the start of the 2008-09 season, with 11 of his 24 goals counting as the game-winner over the last two years.  This season, the Rangers have posted a record of 7-0-1 in games when he notches a goal.

A BROADWAY HIT – The Blueshirts currently rank second in the NHL with 1,619 hits, including 894 hits at home to rank third in the league. Ryan Callahan ranks second in the NHL with 211 hits, and Michael Del Zotto ranks third among all first-year players with 122 hits.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT – Rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto currently leads all NHL rookies in power play assists (12), ranks second in power play points (15), fourth in assists (18), tied for fifth in power play goals (three) and seventh in points (24). Artem Anisimov is tied for second on the Rangers overall in even strength goals (eight), and seventh among NHL rookies in goals (nine) and 14th in points (18).  Matt Gilroy is currently tied for fourth among rookie defensemen with four goals.

WINS LEADERS SINCE 2006-07 – Since the start of 2006-07, Henrik Lundqvist ranks sixth in the NHL with 134 wins, trailing Miikka Kiprusoff (148) by 14, Martin Brodeur (144) and Roberto Luongo (144) by 10, Evgeni Nabokov (143) by nine, and Ryan Miller (139) by five.

BLUESHIRT OLYMPIANS – The Blueshirts will have six players representing their native country at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada next month.  Rangers Captain Chris Drury (3rd Olympic appearance - 2002, 2006) and Ryan Callahan (1st Olympic appearance) will represent the United States, 2006 Winter Olympic Gold Medalist Henrik Lundqvist (2nd Olympic appearance - 2006) will represent Sweden, 2006 Winter Olympic Silver Medalist Olli Jokinen (3rd Olympic appearance - 2002, 2006) will represent Finland, and Marian Gaborik (2nd Olympic appearance - 2006) will represent Slovakia.  Hartford Wolf Pack forward Andres Ambuhl (2nd Olympic appearance - 2006), who signed with the Rangers on May 27, will represent Switzerland.  In addition, Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella will serve as an assistant coach for Team USA, Head Athletic Trainer Jim Ramsay will serve as an athletic therapist for Team Canada, and Massage Therapist/Assistant Trainer Bruce Lifrieri will serve as the massage therapist for Team USA.

RANGERS STREAKS:

·         Marian Gaborik enters tomorrow's contest riding a three-game goal and point streak (five goals)

MILESTONES IN SIGHT:

  • Chris Drury: 3 points from 600 NHL career

RECENT MILESTONES ACHIEVED:

  • Marian Gaborik: 500th career NHL point/250th career NHL goal, Jan. 31 at COL
  • Chad Johnson: 1st career NHL win, Jan. 31 at COL

INJURIES: None

Total Man-Games Lost: 51

RECENT TRANSACTIONS:

  • Jan. 26: Recalled goaltender Chad Johnson from Hartford (AHL), and assigned goaltender Matt Zaba to Hartford
  • Feb. 2: Acquired forwards Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust from Calgary, in exchange for forwards Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik

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