Who: Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers
Where: Verizon Center
When: Wednesday, December 12, 7 pm
Broadcast Info: CSN+, 3WT; FSN-NY, WABC 770 AM
New York Times
For some reason games between the Caps and the Rangers always seem to catch these two teams going in opposite directions, and tonight's game is no exception. The Caps have won three of their last four; the Rangers have dropped three of four. The Rangers are flirting with first in the division; the Caps have long been mired in last place in the league. It always makes for an interesting matchup, one that the Caps appear more than ready for despite a few key injuries that continue to shorten the bench.
Recent changes by Boudreau seem to have reinvigorated the Caps, not the least of which is the newly minted top line of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Pettinger. The line has created some of the best chances in the last two games and Backstrom has suddenly found his scoring touch, potting goals in two straight and simply appearing more comfortable in every situation.
And then there's the play of Quintin Laing, Hershey Bear and journeyman AHLer, whose scrappy, hardworking play has been perfectly suited to the ailing Caps. His performances in every game have been commendable, and it was capped off with a well-deserved goal in Monday's win. Look for him to continue to make his mark in the lineup, blocking shots and providing the shot in the arm for this Caps team.
Meanwhile New York continues to struggle with consistency on so many levels. Before the season began, the Rangers were annointed as the new kings of the East and in some respects they have held true to that prediction. But they've done it in spite of an anemic offense, one that is in fact the worst in the league - "led", of course, by their mighty captain Jagr, whose 7 goals put him on pace for a measly 20 on the year. In that respect they are very much like the last-place Caps, and there but for the grace of Henrik Lundqvist go the Rags...
Hank is only one of the obstacles facing the Caps tonight, but he's also the biggest. It was not the Rangers who beat the Caps a month and a half ago...it was Lundqvist. He was the difference, keeping the Rangers in it and more importantly keeping the Caps out of it en route to a 2-0 victory and his third shutout of the year. He's added two more since, including one just a few days ago against the white hot Devils.
The Caps need to find a way to continue their recent scoring touch, hot goalie or not, if they want to make it three in a row.
Tonight's big promotion is "80s night", which I guess means '80s music will be played and...you can dress up...and stuff. I don't know. What I do know is that the first 5,000 people in attendance will receive a lovely red mullet wig (as modeled by Craig Laughlin on Monday night's broadcast and by poor unfortunate random Caps employee in the picture above).
But these wigs are merely impostors, pretenders to the throne of the ultimate mullet. The king of mullets, if you will. Coincidence that the former owner of this shaggy delight makes his season debut in DC tonight?
You be the judge.
Short on top, nothin' but a party in the back! Evil returns...tonight.