Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gameday: vs. NY Rangers, Feb. 25

Can Michal Neuvirth build on his performance in Pittsburgh?
The Washington Capitals will welcome the New York Rangers to Verizon Center tonight for their fourth and final regular season meeting this season.  After winning their first meeting with the Rangers in November 5-3, the Capitals have lost two in a row against the Blueshirts by 7-0 and 2-1 scores. Washington reports for duty tonight with 74 standings points in 61 games, and riding a modest two-game winning streak.  They stand in second place in the Southeast Division and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.  The Rangers come into tonight's action with 68 points in 62 games, which places them third in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference.  In their last game, the Rangers beat the Hurricanes 4-3, giving up a lead after two periods before coming back to tie late and then win in a shootout.

Rangers bench boss John Tortorella is expected to roll with the his iron horse, Henrik Lundqvist, in nets.  Lundqvist is coming off a 30-save shootout (where he was perfect) win against the Hurricanes on Tuesday.  One of the best goalies in the league, Lundqvist is the backbone of the Rangers and has the ability to shut any team down.  He will be a tough task for the Capitals.  Out of the crease, however, the Caps may catch a break as the Rangers are expected to be without two of their best players.  Star forward Marian Gaborik has a concusssion and is still in New York, he will not play.  Star defenseman Marc Staal is still feeling the effects of being run over by his big brother Eric, and is "doubtful" for the contest. Regardless, the Rangers are a tough defensive bunch, evidenced by the six total goals the Capitals have scored on them in three games (including an empty-netter).

Michal Neuvirth has been named the Capitals starter for the game, bucking the normal Bruce Boudreau trend of waiting until the morning skate to announce the goaltender.  Not that it needed an official announcement.  Neuvy won the game for the Capitals on Monday night, and deserves this game.  Outside of the Washington crease, Nicklas Backstrom is expected to play despite a reportedly broken left thumb.  When asked about the thumb during yesterday's practice, Backstrom said that it does not bother him when he is stickhandling, so he will try and give it a go.  Matt Hendricks will return after a one-game absence due to the flu, likely bumping DJ King to the press box.  Mike Green is considered questionable for the game, but is expected to play; he did not skate yesterday due to an illness, not his "inner-ear trauma," which has been steadily improving. His return will likely send Tyler Sloan to the healthy scratch list with King.

Puck drops for this big Eastern Conference tilt 7:08-ish.  Check back later today for updates from the morning skate.

Information from Larry Brooks and Katie Carrera was used in this post.

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