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W2W4: Rangers at Capitals

10/16/2013

At a glance: A reeling Rangers squad hopes to get back on track Wednesday night in D.C. when they face Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals for the first time since bouncing them from the first round of the playoffs last spring. The Rangers are sputtering after a 1-4-0 start to the season but hope that a return to the Eastern Time Zone can help matters. The Rangers spent their first five games out West, but play the next three close to home including stops in D.C., New Jersey and Philly.

Shaking things up: The Rangers tailspin already prompted some changes, as the team waived both backup goaltender Martin Biron and gritty winger Arron Asham on Monday. To replace the veterans, the Rangers recalled 26-year-old netminder Cam Talbot to back up Henrik Lundqvist and summoned talented prospect J.T. Miller as well. Head coach Alain Vigneault already put some of his top-six forwards on notice with Miller’s recall. Though the 20-year-old forward is slated to start on the fourth line, Vigneault said he could earn himself a promotion if other players don’t earn their ice time.

Key injuries: Already missing Carl Hagelin, who continues to rehab his surgically-repaired shoulder, the Rangers are now without one of their other most dynamic wingers. Rick Nash will miss his third straight game since sustaining a blow to the head last Tuesday from San Jose’s Brad Stuart. Nash, who was placed on injured reserve Monday, was “still feeling symptoms” earlier this week, according to Vigneault, and does not appear to be nearing a return any time soon. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto will also be unavailable Wednesday night because of the flu; physical blue-liner Justin Faulk will draw into the lineup to replace Del Zotto.

Potent power-play: Washington hasn’t fared much better than the Rangers to begin the season – they are 2-4-0 through the first six games – but at least they can continue to count on their power play. The Caps lead the league on the man-advantage with a 36.4 efficiency rate after going 8-for-22. Ovechkin leads the team with three power-play goals, but newcomer Mikhail Grabovski has proven to be a nice addition as well with a pair of his own.