Top-10 Caps games: No. 9 vs. Rangers

Top-10 Caps games: No. 9 vs. Rangers
August 19, 2014, 11:30 am
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Earlier this offseason we learned the Capitals entire slate of games for the upcoming 2014-15 campaign and highlighted some of the notable match-ups and storylines. Now we go a bit deeper by counting down the 10 most interesting contests.

GAME No. 10: Capitals vs. Blues, Sun. Feb. 1

GAME No. 9: Capitals vs. Rangers, Wed. Mar. 11

The interest: In an odd scheduling quirk, the Capitals and Rangers meet just once in the first 67 games of the regular-season (Dec. 23 in New York), before facing off three times in the final 15 games of the campaign.

With both the Caps and Rangers likely jockeying for playoff positioning down the stretch, their three meetings in the final month of the regular-season could go a long way in determining seeding in the Metropolitan Division. Washington and New York will also meet March 29 at Madison Square Garden and in the regular-season finale, April 11, at Verizon Center. 

While the Capitals face the Rangers three times over the final 15 games of the season, they'll oppose the rest of the Atlantic Division just twice (one home game each against New Jersey and Carolina) over that same stretch.

Scheduling advantage: The Capitals' March 11 meeting with the Rangers will be the third game of a season-high five-game homestand (March 5-15), while the Rangers will arrive in D.C. playing their third road game in four nights.

While the Capitals have three days off (no games) after hosting the Wild on March 7, the Rangers visit the Blackhawks on March 8 and the Islanders on March 10 before making their maiden trip to D.C. on March 11.

If a rested Capitals bunch can take advantage of a potentially tiring Rangers team, give the edge to the home team.

The Rangers: The Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Finals last season for the first time since 1994 due in large part to a trio of players that have given the Capitals headaches for years- goalie Henrik Lundqvist, defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward Martin St. Louis.

Including the 2013 playoffs, Lundqvist at one point had three straight shutouts over the Capitals, a stretch that was highlighted by New York's 5-0 win at Verizon Center in Game 7 of their 2013 first-round series.
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McDonagh (and defensive partner Dan Girardi) have often been tasked with limiting Alex Ovechkin, and the Rangers No.1 defensive pairing has proven, more of than not, to be up for the challenge. Including the playoffs, Ovechkin has been limited to 2 goals and 3 points in his last 11 games against New York.
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St. Louis has not yet faced the Capitals since being traded to the Rangers late last season, but the former Lightning forward has long played well against the Caps, recording 29 goals and 80 points in 74 career games against Washington.
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The history: Since 2009, the Capitals and Rangers have met four times in the last six postseasons, with each team winning two series (Capitals in 2009 and 2011; Rangers in 2012 and 2013). The teams also split their four-game regular-season series in 2013-14, with each team winning once at home and once on the road.

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Among the highlights in the season series last year was Philipp Grubauer earning his first career NHL win, when the Capitals beat the Rangers 4-1 at Madison Square Garden, Dec. 8, 2013.

[RELATED: Life after the Caps: Brendan Witt]