It may not be the standard, old-school rivalry but over the years, the Rangers and Caps (12-7-1) have formed a bitter hatred for one another because of the playoff matches -- Washington has New York's number -- between the two. Wednesday will showcase two teams on the different side of streaks: the Rangers (10-5-3) have lost two in a row after seven wins in a row, while the Capitals have won two in a row after winning just one of seven (plus, they began the year with seven wins in a row).
After playing four games in two weeks, the Rangers are now in the thick of their schedule, and are concluding a four-game road swing, while the Caps are ending their three-game homestand. The Rangers had the Capitals' number in the regular season, winning the last three meetings and outscoring them 14-1 over the last three games. But the Caps won when it counted in the playoffs.
Nicklas Backstrom paces the Caps with 23 points in 20 games, and Alex Ovechkin is second with seven goals and 16 points. The Caps added forward depth this past offseason, but coach John Tortorella will be looking to match his top defensemen, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, with the Caps' top line that now includes the two stars. Unlike years past, Tomas Vokoun adds a very steady presence in goal for the Capitals; he's 10-4 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.
The Rangers called up Hartford forward's John Mitchell, who was leading the team with seven goals, and the speedy winger Carl Hagelin. It's unclear who will be in the lineup, but with Andre Deveaux likely facing suspension, one guy will definitely get a show. The Blueshirts have been MIA on offense over their past few games, and rank as the league's worst with 25.4 shots on goal per game. They need to find a way to generate consistent scoring opportunities.