After three days off, the Washington Capitals are back in action against the New York Rangers — but they'll be shorthanded again, as quite a few players are on the shelf with injuries.
Here is everything to know ahead of puck drop.
Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers: Tale of the Tape
Along with the injuries they've dealt with all year, the Capitals will be without three key pieces against the Rangers in John Carlson, T.J. Oshie and Martin Fehervary. Carlson is out indefinitely and on the injured reserve after taking a Brenden Dillon shot to the face. The incident left him bleeding profusely and sent him to the hospital, but he was discharged on Saturday and is home. Oshie and Fehervary remain out with upper-body injuries.
Washington (19-13-4) has won four straight and nine of its last 10 games and has been seeing things click across the board. The game against New York will be a vital one, as a win can leapfrog them over NY to fourth in the Metropolitan Division and potentially boost them to third depending on how the Pittsburgh Penguins fare in their Tuesday tilt. The team has been getting offense from all forwards, and the blue line is also contributing. Meanwhile, special teams have gotten a boost, as the Capitals' penalty kill is the seventh-best in the league (80.8 percent) while the power play is operating at 20.8 percent.
The Rangers won't be an easy opponent, though. New York (19-11-5) has won eight of its last 10 and has been getting contributions from its key players. The Rangers also don't give up much, allowing just 2.27 goals per game (seventh-least). Their power play (22.9) and penalty kill (80.6) also rank high. Igor Shesterkin, despite recent struggles, has also come up with some big stops.
Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers: Lines
The forward lines appear to be remaining the same as they have been. On the blue line, things changed with Carlson and Fehervary still on the shelf. Lucas Johansen came up from Hershey to provide extra support with No. 74 on the shelf, but per The Athletic's Tarik El-Bashir, it'll be Alex Alexeyev stepping in as Trevor van Riemsdyk takes Carlson's spot on the top pairing.
Here are the projected lines:
Alex Ovechkin-Dylan Strome-Conor Sheary
Sonny Milano-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Anthony Mantha
Marcus Johansson-Lars Eller-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Aliaksei Protas-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Erik Gustafsson-Trevor van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Alex Alexeyev-Matt Irwin
Darcy Kuemper gets the nod as he continues to get back in the swing of things after returning from injury. Charlie Lindgren will back up.
Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers: Players To Watch
Washington got a sigh of relief as Alex Ovechkin finally hit 802 career goals back on Friday with two goals, and he has been getting several chances from all around the ice of late while picking up points in seven of his last eight games. When it comes to other players to watch, though, keep an eye on Sonny Milano. He has goals in back-to-back games and six points in his last five outings. Evgeny Kuznetsov also has points in three of his last four games, and Conor Sheary has 10 points in 12 games in December.
On the New York side, Artemi Panarin is the biggest threat with 41 points in 35 games so far. Both he and Mika Zibenejad have points in three of their last four games. Beyond the stars, Vincent Trocheck has been tearing it up lately and is on a six-game point streak. Kaapo Kakko has also been finding his game lately and has points in five of his last six and seven points in his last eight outings overall. And as always, look out for Adam Fox and Chris Kreider.
How To Tune In
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden.