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Rangers vs Capitals preview; Defense contributes; Stempniak returns; Duclair WJC update

Bantering Points for Tuesday, December 23, 2014.

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers will finally get their first look at the "new" Washington Capitals tonight. The Capitals are coming off a 2-1 win against the Senators last night, where Braden Holtby led the way with 39 stops. They have points in their last 8 games and are hitting their own stride. It is unclear if Holtby will get the nod again tonight, but he has been his steady self all season and particularly good as of late (.927 sv% in December, .923 5v5 sv%). He has never faired particularly well in back-to-backs, so I don't really mind if he plays another tonight. Though back-up Justin Peters has been quite poor. [Washington Post]

Here's a look at the goaltending for each team thus far, courtesy of

Goalies 12-23-14

Expect a bit of the familiar with this Barry Trotz led club. But a few new faces in Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Andre Burakovsky, and Evgeny Kuznetsov make significant contributions, or at least have the potential to. Young Burakovsky, 19 years old, recently did a stint with AHL affiliate Hershey but is now back with the club and could see the ice in the tail end of a back-to-back. He is a talented offensive player who has to be accounted for, even in minimal TOI.

The on-again-off-again rivalry between these two clubs has significance as the Rangers try to win a 7th straight game and leap-frog the Capitals in the standings. Both teams are fighting for one of the top 3 seeds in the Metro and playing pretty good hockey. But with the Islanders and Penguins consistently winning, there may be one team left with a wild card spot or, worse, nothing at all.  [NY Daily News]  [Fox Sports]  [Blueshirts United]

Ovi is still a lightning rod, I guess. I think he is what he is. [North Jersey]

Reebok has a strange Winter Classic ad featuring Joel Ward. I don't know.  [Russian Machine Never Breaks]

During the current six game winning streak, Rangers defensemen, led by Kevin Klein and Ryan McDonagh, have made significant offensive contributions. [Newsday]

Lee Stempniak is done with his five day mumps quarantine and eligible to skate with the team tonight. I am sure he will get a morning skate in, but doubtful he will play with the club this evening. The question seems to be how AV will juggle lines, given his preference for keeping Tanner Glass in the lineup.  Stempniak has been solid and I am of the opinion that he needs to get that playing time, of course. [NY Post]  [CBS Sports]

AV and the Rangers have confidence that Dan Boyle will contribute. [North Jersey]  But the Rangers powerplay hasn't been good, and certainly needs him to figure it out soon, hopefully improving results along the way.  [Blue Seat Blogs]

Anthony Duclair, playing on a strong line featuring fellow top prospects Sam Reinhart and Max Domi, helped Team Canada take down Sweden. The line contributed 3 of the 5 goals and looked dangerous all night in a tuneup before the World Junior Championships begins on December 26th. Expect Duclair to feature prominently on a stacked Canadian team expected to take gold.  [Ottawa Citizen]  [Globe and Mail]

The US will play Finland on the 26th, while the Canadians get Slovakia. The NHL Network and TSN will carry broadcasts. NHL-N TV listings for games can be found here.  [WJC Site]