Sunday, December 12, 2010

Preview: Capitals @ Rangers

Data is from Objective NHL,,, and Left Wing Lock.

Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers
Washington: 18-10-3, 39 points
Leading scorers: Alex Ovechkin (12-24-36 in 31 GP), Alexander Semin (18-15-33 in 31 GP), Nicklas Backstrom (11-22-33 in 31 GP)
Goalies: Michal Neuvirth (12-5-2, 2.68, .908), Semyon Varlamov* (4-3-0, 2.06, .930)
Shot differential/game: +4.0
5-on-5 shot differential/game: +3.1
Score close Corsi%: 53.2% (5th)
Adjusted Corsi%: 51.5% (12th)
Notable injuries/illnesses: D Tyler Sloan, F Matt Hendricks, D Jeff Schultz, D John Erskine, D Mike Green, W Alexander Semin, C Nicklas Backstrom, C Boyd Gordon, F Brooks Laich, D John Carlson
Player to watch: LW Alex Ovechkin

New York: 17-13-1, 35 points
Leading scorers: Brandon Dubinsky (13-12-25 in 31), Ryan Callahan (8-13-21 in 30), Marian Gaborik (8-9-17 in 18)
Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist (12-11-5, 2.57, .915), Martin Biron* (5-2-0, 2.38, .911)
Shot differential/game: -2.2
5-on-5 shot differential/game: -3.1
Score close Corsi%: 47.9% (22nd)
Adjusted Corsi%: 47.6% (24th)
Notable injuries/illnesses: C Chris Drury, F Vaclav Prospal, D Steve Eminger, F Derek Boogaard
Player to watch: G Henrik Lundqvist/Martin Biron

*Starter as predicted by LWL

Both teams come off hard-fought losses, the Capitals their fifth straight to Colorado, the Rangers to Columbus.

1) Keep crashing the net. Bad ice at MSG means that those pretty plays may not work. The Capitals from what I gather were crashing the net against Colorado, and need to continue against New York, who don't allow a ton of good shots and are good PKers (well, until this season).

2) Hit. Get Alex Ovechkin, Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, etc, involved early. The team will be all the better off as a result. Take Callahan's game to Callahan, Dubinsky's game to Dubinsky, and hopefully throw Marc Staal off his game.

3) Shoot glove. The Rangers are a poor faceoff team, under 45%. Lots of offensive zone draws always help generate offense. I'd love to see the Ovechkin-off-the-faceoff play end up hitting the net again. How many times have we seen that work?

4) Play east-west. Crash the net, and play east-west? Yep. Slow the game down. The Capitals may be missing their top defensive pair again. Marian Gaborik is happy. But his main asset is his speed, and a slow game means he can never open up and be as effective as he can be.

5) Hot Varlamov. Pretty please.

The Capitals dominated in Corsi against Colorado, more than can be solely attributed to score effects. I'd say it's a sign they could be turning the corner. The power play connected, the penalty kill continues to be decent, and the even strength play in the offensive zone is getting better, more cyclical and less transition. At some point this team is going to go on a long winning streak of its own. Let's start tonight. Capitals 3, Rangers 1.

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