The New York Rangers play host to the Washington Capitals later this evening at 6 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.
It's the first matchup between the two teams since the Eastern Conference semifinals last year when the Rangers outed the Caps from the playoffs.
Coming into this contest, the Rangers (7-5-1, 15 points) are coming off a disappointing 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders. The Capitals (5-8-1, 11 points) are coming off three straight wins to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers (twice).
The Rangers have given up a plethora of odd man rushes the past few games, and the Caps are a team that can't be done against. They have great offensive firepower up front, and Alexander Ovechkin has a knack for putting the puck past Henrik Lundqvist.
Mike Green won't suit up for the Capitals tonight as he has a lower-body injury. He'll be replaced by Tom Poti, so we'll see how their power play unit (ranked 5th in the league with a 27.1 percent success rate) responds in his absence.
The Rangers are expected to have J.T. Miller start his sixth game this season which will burn the first year of his entry-level contract. The other day, the team decided to send Chris Kreider back to Hartford rather than Miller, making it seem as though Miller was here to stay. However, Kreider was recalled yesterday.
He may have been recalled as Rick Nash's availability is in question.
He missed practice Saturday for a "maintenance day" and was also unavailable for a season-ticket holder's event Friday.
It remains unclear what is wrong with Nash, although there has been speculation that whatever is ailing him might be related to a nasty hit suffered in Tuesday's game against the Boston Bruins. Nash's head smacked the boards after being shouldered by Milan Lucic. He did not miss time in that game, however. Nash also played against the Islanders on Thursday.
Rangers head coach John Tortorella addressed the media, saying everyone is taking part in warm-ups, so it won't be clear until game time whether or not Nash will play.
Gaborik – Richards – Callahan
Hagelin – Stepan – Nash (or Kreider)
Miller – Boyle – Pyatt
Powe – Halpern – Asham
McDonagh – Girardi
Staal – Stralman
Del Zotto – Gilroy
Scratches: Bickel, Eminger, (Kreider or Nash).
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