The New York Rangers will travel to the Capital One Arena on Wednesday night to kick off the 2021-22 regular season against the Washington Capitals. The Rangers finished fifth in the East Division last season (27-23-6, 60 points) and failed to reach the postseason. The Capitals finished second in the East Division (36-15-5, 77 points) and they lost in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Boston Bruins defeated them in five games.
These two franchises are very close to one another this season and this matchup is expected to be a very tight one. Let’s take a deeper dive into New York and Washington to determine where we should be placing our wagers.
Rangers Need to Continue ScoringThe New York Rangers have been continuously getting better and one of the reasons is the play of left winger Artemi Panarin, who is expected to take that next step. The team is completely healthy as they do not have any players listed on the injury report. Panarin finished last season with 58 points (17 goals, 41 assists) and is expected to take that next step and become a reliable starting option on the wing. Panarin has shown the ability to be one of the core players and it’ll be time to see if the Capitals can stop him on the defensive side with an average defense in the 2020-21 regular season.
Igor Shesterkin is expected to be the main starter in the net this season for the Rangers and has to improve this year. New York allowed 154 goals last season, which ended up being 14th in the league. They were very good against opposing power plays as they have killed 139-of-169 (82.25 percent) of them during the 2020-21 season. The Capitals finished as a top-three offense in the league so this will be a good chance to see where this defense stands.
Center of AttentionThe Washington Capitals have a glaring issue as they will be without their best player in Nicklas Backstrom, so they will be depending on the play of defenseman John Carlson. They have no timetable for Backstrom’s return so it is expected to be a long-term issue. Carlson finished last season with just 44 points (10 goals, 34 assists) last season but there will definitely be a lot of opportunities for him to shine. Backstrom showed the ability to be one of the best players and this will be one of the most vulnerable a fringe playoff team can be here.
Wednesday night is go time for the Capitals and the New York Rangers, who will open their 2021-22 season against one another in Washington. https://t.co/OLFu8zlCWM— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 13, 2021
Vitek Vanecek is expected to remain the starting goalie for the Washington Capitals this season and had no reason to give anyone else the opportunity. Last season, he allowed 2.69 goals in 37 games. Washington allowed 163 goals last season, which is 17th in the league. They have been above-average against opposing power plays as they have killed 136-of-162 (83.95 percent) of them in the 2020-21 season. The Rangers are a below-average offense in the league so this will be a chance for the Capitals to get a good start without their best player on the ice.
- Washington: 23-6 in their last 29 games as a favorite
- Washington: 20-7 in their last 27 games playing with 3+ days rest
- New York: 9-24 in their last 33 as an underdog
- New York: 0-4 in their last 4 games with 3+ days rest