Where We Are: The Rangers are just back from a fantastically successful tour of the wild, wild west. There was a regulation win, an overtime win and a loss against the best team in the NHL. It was definitely my favourite loss of the season and one of the better ones in a long, long time. What the hell am I talking about? Effort. Heart. Desire. Perseverance. Dedication. Everything I could ask for. Of course, little of those characteristics were shown by the high priced talent on this team but - after watching every single game this season - I now expect those guys to fail so when they don't hurt the team too badly while carrying away their carts of cash, I walk away pleased.
Where They Are: Washington followed up a five game winning streak by getting curbstomped by the Flyers 7-1 on Saturday. Much like with the Sharks, the Caps may be pumped to prove themselves. Or then again, maybe they just will start down a long road that will see them fall out of first in the Southeast, but I doubt it.
Who To Watch For: Brett Leonhardt. Seriously, if this guy is walking around the Garden, he deserves to be applauded - what an amazing story. Down on the ice there will of course be the incredible AO, who is worth the price of admission himself. The other Alex, Semin (hehe), is hurting but the Caps also have a stud in Nicklas Backstrom, a steady vet in Viktor Kozlov and a never-say-die grinder who can contribute in Brooks Laich. My boy Tom Poti might not play after straining his groin; sometimes the jokes write themselves ...
What To Watch For: Donald Brashear to have a big shift or two to physically intimidate the Rangers. Brent Johnson to stand on his head, if he starts. The Rangers power play to finally work against a kill that is sixth worse in the NHL at 79.6%.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: Another strong performance by the Blueshirts - no resting on their laurels!! These Caps are ravaged by injuries and the Rangers need to take advantage of that by taking the game to them. That sequence during the San Jose game in the third period where the Rangers ran the Sharks ragged? How about a whole game of that? As well as Brashear vs. Brendan Shanahan 2. Oh, he isn't around (yet)? How about Orr vs. Ovechkin 2? Great work by Joe Micheletti in that second clip there. Dainus Zubrus? Jesus, pay attention. The whole building knew he rocked Ovie.
Also Check Out: The Caps have arguably the best blogbase around the league in terms of skill, info and access - if only because of their owner Ted Leonsis, who has his own well-maintained page. Probably the best not owned by him are personal fav Japer's Rink, On Frozen Blog and the diverse DC sports blog Off Wing Opinion.
As always, I recommend people check out Sam Weinman's Ranger Report and Steve Zipay's Blue Notes.