Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Photo: Alex Brandon / Associated Press

It’s “Rivalry Night”, kiddos, and there’s nearly no better rivalry in the NHL right now than the Capitals and the Rangers.

Last time around– can you believe we’ve only played them once this season? — didn’t go so hot. We were fumbling and they were ascending. Things have turned around a bit, but tonight’s match is really just the beginning of the end of regular season play. We’ve only got three chances to nail these guys, and chance one starts tonight.

Both teams are coming off wins, but very different ones at that. The Sabres’ face-plant against the Caps was hardly a meaningful test, unlike Tuesday’s Rangers’ win over the Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders. Add in the Pens, and you’ve got a fairly tight bunch at the top between those four teams.

Every Rangers post must include a shot of Lundqvist. It's the law.

Every Rangers post must include a shot of Lundqvist. It’s the law.

We’re both playing well, although the Caps have been getting a might sloppy of late, and both squads are in relatively decent condition, considering how deep we are into the season. On the Rangers side, handsome ol’ Henrik Lundqvist is still out, healing his pretty, pretty face, but so, too, might be Mike Green and Brooks Orpik, who are two D-men we do not want to lose.

Less meaningful, but more irritating, will be the likely flood of Rags fans who will pollute Verizon tonight. Some things are simply, self-evidently, inescapable. Death and taxes. Daylight Savings Time is stupid. And right up there, Rangers fans are just awful.

We reached out to the decidedly non-awful Neill Fowler — writer, owner, operator and bottle-washer at New York Rangers Blog — for some insight about the Rangers, and the second of what we expect will be several more meetings before this whole thing is through. He was good enough to share his thoughts after a tense, but ultimately successful, evening for the Rangers last night.

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Caps vs. Rangers Pregame: Happy Trails, Adam

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Photo by Alex Prewitt

The Rangers come to town fresh off a 2-1 win over the Islanders last night. The Rangers are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. They currently sit second in the Metro, one point behind the Islanders and seven points ahead of the fourth place Caps. If the Caps hope to go far this Spring, they’ll likely have to go through the Blueshirts. Expect a playoff-like atmosphere at Verizon Center tonight.

Puck drop is at 8pm on NBCSN.

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Caps vs Sabres Pregame: Ovi’s a Game-Time Decision

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When it comes to being bad: 1974-75 Capitals > 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres

The Ovechkin-less Capitals had a hard time generating offense against the Wild the other night. Even if Ovi misses tonight’s game (which is a possibility), the Caps will have no excuse should they do it again. The 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres are one of the worst NHL teams of all time and they like it that way. They even traded away Michal Neuvirth to make the team worse. Worse!

I mean, they’re still not as bad as our beloved 74-75 Capitals, who won just 8 (great) games and got outscored 446 to 181. So if anyone tries to say the Sabres are the worst team of all time, you have my permission to Kanye them.

Puck drops at 7 PM on CSN.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 35-21-10 51.5% 100.3 24.2% 81.3%
Buffalo Sabres 19-41-5 36.4% 100.2 11.4% 74.8%

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Caps vs Wild Pregame: Snow-vechkin? No-vechkin?

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The view from Capitol Hill (Photo: Kevin Ford)

The National Weather Service determines a blizzard based on high wind speed, not snowfall. Everyone else knows we’re currently experiencing a blizzard here on the east coast. But as far as we know, the Washington Capitals are still on for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

If you’re going, bring a tauntaun and a rugby team. 7 PM, CSN, I guess.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 35-20-10 51.6% 100.4 23.9% 81.1%
Minnesota Wild 34-22-7 52.8% 99.0 15.2% 87.0%

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Caps at Blue Jackets Pregame: Meet the New Guys

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Photo: Capstragram

The Capitals are in exotic Ohio tonight for a game with the poor Columbus Blue Jackets. Tonight will be our first look at new forward Curtis Glencross and just our second at man-animal hybrid Tim Gleason on the blue line. These guys, plus assorted fellows from Hershey, will be your Caps squad for the duration, so let’s get start on the right foot: a W.

Puck drops at 7 PM on CSN-DC. Drive safe getting home tonight; roads are gonna be nasty.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 34-20-10 51.6% 100.4 23.6% 81.4%
Columbus Blue Jackets 26-32-4 46.3% 98.8 20.4% 80.4%

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Caps vs Leafs Pregame: Look Out, You Rock and Rollers

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Big deal, Curtis. Anyone can point at an Edmonton goalie.

The deadline isn’t until Monday afternoon, but the Washington Capitals might already be done. After acquiring Tim Gleason and Curtis Glencross, the Caps current roster might be the same one we see in the postseason. Or maybe not.

Tonight’s game, at home against the Maple Leafs, is the organization’s last chance to evaluate their players before all sales are final. 7 PM on CSN.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 33-20-10 51.5% 100.3 23.3% 81.1%
Toronto Maple Leafs 25-32-5 46.4% 100.0 18.5% 82.0%

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Caps at Canes Pregame: Two Left Before the Deadline

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The Capitals are in an odd situation right now. They’re a good team, but they haven’t been playing like it in the last 10 days. They’re a playoff team, but they’ve been losing to gutter teams. They’re reportedly buyers at the trade deadline, but most of the attractive players have already been snatched up. They’ve got a lot of talent on the roster, but they’re not necessarily using it well.

With just two games left before the trade deadline, I’m starting to wonder if we’ll see any big changes at all. Maybe the team we’ll see against the Hurricanes tonight will be the same one we see in May.

Game’s at 7 on CSN. It’ll be my first time hearing Joe B call a game since before he got sick.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 33-19-10 51.6% 100.4 23.4% 80.9%
Carolina Hurricanes 22-30-7 51.2% 97.0 18.5% 88.0%

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Caps vs Penguins Pregame: Can They Sweep?

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Outgoing Caps reporter Adam Vingan (Photo by Monumental, modified by Prewitt)

In three meetings this season, the Capitals have outscored the Penguins 10-1. Inside the Metro, only Carolina has a worse intra-division record than the Penguins (7-11-4). Crosby’s reportedly having an off-year, and the fans are quite grumpy.

And none of that matters tonight.

The Penguins are still an excellent team. Crosby’s decline is mostly meaningless statistical noise; he’s still the best playmaker in the league, and the team’s record against the Metro doesn’t tell me much about who’s gonna win tonight. Like every game, this one will be decided by who’s got the better goalie and which team helps him out the most. I peeked at the Caps’ lines, and I think it’ll be the home team who wins this one and secures a regular-season sweep for the first time in five years.

8 PM on NBCSN. Do the thing.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 33-18-10 51.8% 100.3 23.7% 80.8%
Pittsburgh Penguins 34-17-9 52.9% 100.7 20.5% 85.6%

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This is literally every picture of the Caps and Flyers

This is literally every picture ever of the Caps and Flyers.

As if back-to-back matinees weren’t enough, today’s game against the Flyers comes hot on the heels of one of the best games we’ve seen in quite a while. In fact, we just canNOT wait for today’s match-up, so let’s get right to it.

It might feel easy to write off the Flyers this season, but not so fast. They can still surprise, both for being amazing and, alternately amazingly bad, so you just never know which team is going to show up.

For a little insight into this Jekyll/Hyde team, we were lucky enough to chat with Collin Mehalick, editor over at the excellent Flyers blog Broad Street Hockey and all-around smarty-pants about all things Philly, about today’s game, and just what sort of squad we’ll be facing at the Wells Fargo Center.

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Caps at Flyers Pregame: Hockey Day in America

NHL 2015 - Feb 19 - BUF vs PHI - Right Wing Jakub Voracek (#93) of the Philadelphia Flyers scores against Goalie Michal Neuvirth (#34) of the Buffalo Sabres

Oh. Wow. You can score on Neuvirth and the Sabres. You must be very proud.

Let’s make this quick because I gotta shovel my sidewalk.

The Caps won yesterday for the fourth time in a row, their best run of the season. No time to celebrate though, because evil Bettman scheduled them for back-to-back nooners. I’d say “don’t worry, it’s just the Flyers” except just because they’re a bad team doesn’t mean they can’t play dirty stuff and get a little lucky too.

Tune in at 12:30 on NBC proper.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 33-17-10 51.8% 100.3 24.3% 81.4%
Philadelphia Flyers 25-23-11 49.6% 100.1 23.0% 75.9%

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