The Rangers (2-1-0) head to Washington to face the Capitals (2-0-1) tonight at 7 pm. The Capitals offense is already performing at mid-season form as MVP Alex Ovechkin (5G-4A-9P) and center Nicklas Backstrom (8A) have been unstoppable in the first three games of the season. Jose Theodore will get the start in goal tonight instead of young Semyon Varlamov, who played so well against New York in last year’s first round playoff victory over the Rangers.
The Rangers will counter with Henrik Lundqvist (2-1, 2.35 GAA), who will start his fourth consecutive game. Ryan Callahan, who suffered an injury during today’s practice, looks to be a spectator tonight as the Rangers have recalled forward Evgeny Grachev from Hartford. Sean Avery who is still recovering from a sprained knee will not return tonight.
Prediction: The Rangers go into a tough environment without one of their best forecheckers and penalty killers in Ryan Callahan. If they can keep away from dumb penalties (which may be tough with Brashear returning to the Verizon Center for the first time) this should be an exciting game but if they fall behind early, it could get ugly. Ovechkin and Backstrom are on a tear and the Rangers will need huge games out of the pairing of Staal and Girardi and from Henrik Lundqvist to go into D.C. and leave with a victory.
Update (6:59 PM)- Ryan Callahan will play tonight despite his injury.