Ahhhh…coffee and a guest spot on Sirius/XMs Hockey This Morning. Not a shabby way to start a day in Washington that will culminate in Game One of the series between the Rangers and Capitals.
The Blueshirts, who will wear white tonight of course---(NOTE: 7:30 start), are skating at 11:30 a.m. so stay tuned for dispatches from the Verizon Center, a short stroll from where I’m writing here and @stevezipay on Twitter.
What to expect?
Brian Boyle and Ryane Clowe haven’t skated at all, so I’m wagering the farm that they’re not in tonight.
As for Marc Staal, whose right eye continues to be blurry, he told reporters yesterday that he was unlikely to play.
He’s been talking about lighting and glare as difficulties to overcome, so would he or the training staff really take a chance in a building where he hasn’t had any time to adjust to the lighting? In fact, I doubt he’d play at the Garden without first testing the waters when it comes to the lights. About 90 percent of his practices have been at the training center in Westchester County.
The Caps have some big bodies, and the Verizon Center will be amped up tonight, so all three will be missed.
Having said that, you know Ryan Callahan will be coming hard, Rick Nash will want to make an impression and Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi will be battling defensively.
As we’ve written for a week now, and players have said, the Rangers have to stay out of the box as much as possible. The Caps power play is No. 1 in the league.
Both teams were hot coming in, one factor has to be whether the four days off cooled one or both off.
To me, this is another chapter in the history of playoff matchups between Washington and New York, but if you’re looking for trends, here’s some from the team’s notes:
• The Rangers have won eight of their last 11 first-round playoff series
• The Blueshirts are 32-12 all-time in playoff series when winning Game One, including wins in seven of the last nine playoff series in which the Rangers won the opening game
• New York has won six of their last nine Game Ones
• The Blueshirts were the least penalized team in the NHL this season with 183 penalties assessed for an average of 9.2 penalty minutes per game
• New York ranked third in the NHL with 1,413 hits, and sixth in the league with 773 blocked shots this season
• The Rangers held opponents to 2.25 goals against per contest, which ranked third in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the league overall.