The New York Rangers are set to welcome the Washington Capitals in an upcoming NHL championship match following the Christmas break.
In their last game, the Rangers managed a win against Buffalo, with a score of 4:3 in overtime - Kreider scored a goal in the third minute of overtime to secure the victory for New York. With 23 wins and a total of 47 points, the NHL leading Rangers continue their successful run. They have won four out of their last five matches and eight out of their last 12, including a recent overtime win against the Sabres, 4:3. Zibanejad contributed significantly, scoring in seven consecutive games, while Kreider displayed his offensive prowess, scoring in three straight games. Ranger rookie Blake Wheeler has extended his points streak to three games, assisting in the match against Sabres. He has amassed 7 points (3 4) in the last six matches.
Wheeler also extended his points streak to three games, aiding the team in improving their performance. Overall, the Rangers managed to score in the majority of seven consecutive games, marking their longest streak since 2009. The team's defence has faced some problems, notably against Edmonton Oilers when they conceded four goals. On average, the Rangers score 3.34 goals per game, while their defence concedes 2.75 goals per game. Panarin remains a key player, scoring 18 goals and contributing 26 assists.
The Washington Capitals, currently ranked fourth in the Metropolitan Division and leading the Eastern Conference, have shown stable performances, earning points in seven out of their last eight matches. Among the team highlights was a victory over the Rangers, 4:0. Coach Carbery expressed satisfaction with the current state of the team, in spite of their recent loss to Tampa Bay. Although Alexander Ovechkin scored only six goals in his first 31 games, he received support from his fellow teammates. Stroum leads with 13 goals, while Wilson and Mantha each scored 10. Mantha, who scored during the match against Tampa Bay, has been playing excellently in the past month.
Washington is gearing up to bolster its squad after the break, with the impending return of injured Pacioretty and the upcoming signing of defender Bear. On the other hand, the Capitals struggled with their offence, particularly in the match against Tampa Bay where they managed only a single goal. The team's defence, ranking sixth in the league, concedes an average of 2.67 goals per game. Strom, with 13 goals and 7 assists, is one of the key players this season.
Out of the previous ten encounters, Washington claimed six victories, while New York had only four, with the latter's last two victories gaining from last season with five goals - on the 2nd of April, 2023, the Rangers won 5:2. On the 15th of March, 2023, the Rangers won 5:3. The most recent match this season, held on the 10th of December, 2023, saw a win by Washington, 4:0. The meeting on the 25th of February, 2023, concluded with the victory of Washington, scoring 6:3.
This game between Washington and the Rangers promises to be intense, as both teams aggressively compete for playoff positions. Washington aims to improve their scores, but they have struggled with goals scored despite their high-ranking positions in the league. The Rangers, strong on home ice and with reliable goalkeepers, pose a serious challenge. I believe that the home stadium advantage and the leading players of the Rangers, including Panarin, Zibanejad, and Kreider, will play a crucial role in their potential win. Ovechkin's team, like their captain, has severe problems and is yet to find their footing. The Rangers have only lost three times at home in the past two months.