Rangers-Capitals Preview

Tonight at the Verizon Center in Washington DC, the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers (22-8-4, 48 pts) visit the Capitals (17-15-2, 36 pts), the team which eliminated the Blueshirts from last spring's playoffs. Much has changed for both teams since then as the Rangers have put together an extremely strong and consistent start to the 2011-12 season, while the Caps have struggled so mightily that their former Jack Adams Trophy-winning coach Bruce Boudreau was fired and replaced by former Washington star center Dale Hunter. Under Hunter the Caps are 5-6-1, including a 4-2 loss Monday night to the Buffalo Sabres. The Rangers, meanwhile, won their fifth straight game Monday, shutting out the Islanders 3-0 behind Carl Hagelin's second three-goal outing as a Blueshirt. Interestingly, it was in the Rangers only other game so far against Washington this season---a 6-3 win back on November 25th---in which Hagelin made his NHL debut, and that John Mitchell also made his Rangers debut. Both hagelin and Mitchell picked up points in that game, and neither has come out oft he lineup since as the team has gone 12-3-1 over that span. Hagelin has six goals and nine points in those 16 games, while Mitchell has six points and recently received much praise from head coach John Tortorella for his extremely effective play with linemates Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle. Share your predictions for tonight's game below,