NHL Picks: Capitals vs. Rangers

Joe Catalano

Sunday, March 24, 2013 2:11 PM GMT

The New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals meet tonight at Madison Square Garden as these teams seek to get into the playoffs.

The Rangers currently stand in a dead tie with Carolina for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and have owned Washington.

Gametime is set for 7:00 pm ET, tonight at Madison Square Garden.

5 Dimes Sportsbook currently lists the Rangers as a -160 betting odds favorite and the total for the game is 5 goals.

Washington has a little momentum with a two game winning streak and currently sits 3 points behind New York and Carolina for the 8th playoff spot. The Capitals have been a confident bunch, but have had little success against the Rangers this season. The Caps have yet to beat the Blue Shirts this season but have to be feeling good about the play of their goalie Braden Holtby.

Defensive Battle?

Holtby has been in a major groove lately, stopping 70 out of his last 71 shots against. He's 3-1 in his last 4 road games with 2 shutouts and a 0.75 GAA. This provides a problem for the Rangers.

New York has been able to badger the opposing goalie, but have been unable to put the puck in the net. They rank 28th in goals on the season. In their last game, they had 45 shots on goal but just 1 goal in a 3-1 loss to Florida. They're 0 for 12 in power play advantages and 26th overall on the season. The defense has been the glue that's kept this team together.

The King

Goalie, Hendrik Lundvist is known as one of the best goalies in the NHL. Although he's just 1 game over .500, "The King" has allowed just 2.22 GAA this season. Lundvist has been litteraly keeping this team in games single-handedly and is in need of some assistance.

Don't forget to check out our pick on the Flyers vs. the Pens!

Key Acquisition

The Rangers were expected to be one of the best teams in the NHL before the season started. Maybe the NHL Lockout has affected them; a bunch of factors come into play. Left winger, Rick Nash was supposed to be a key acquisition for New York and has mostly lived up to the billing. Nash leads the Rangers in scoring with 25 points in 26 games.

This could be a game where Nash is a factor. He looks to extend his point scoring streak against the Caps to 8 games. Nash has had great success against Washington with 13 points in his last 7 games. The Rangers need the offense from somewhere and expect Nash to be a factor against a surging Capitals team.

Unlike the Rangers, Washington is a team that can score. They're 8th in the NHL at almost 3 goals per game and 1st on the power play. Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro can be a major problem for the Rangers. Ovechkin is coming off a 2 goal game against Winnipeg in a 6-1 victory and Ribeiro leads the team in points and was the number 3 star against the Jets..

This seems to be a great matchup for Washington, but they haven't been able to "Cap"italize against New York.

[gameodds]7/222488/92-43-1537-1452/us[/gameodds]

Outcome

This is a huge game for both teams. Everything seems to point to taking the underdog Capitals as their goalie has been red hot and they've had no problem scoring. The Rangers seem to have the Caps number and with a good goalie, a team can win it all. Lundvist has been one of the best goalies in the game for almost a decade. Look for the Blueshirts to put on an inspiring performance in beating a team that they own on home ice for this NHL Picks.

NHL Pick: Rangers -160 at 5 Dimes