Saturday, April 7, 2012
W2W4: Rangers vs. Capitals
By Katie Strang
At a glance: With a Rangers win against Washington, the Bluehsirts would cap an outstanding regular season with the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy since the 1993-94 Stanley Cup-winning team. Should they snag the league's title, they'd also lock up the Capitals as their first-round opponent in the playoffs. Following a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Penguins on Thursday, the Ranger have plenty to play for in the season finale at Madison Square Garden.
Playoff preview: Saturday's match may well be a precursor to next week's playoffs, but the Rangers could potentially face Florida or Ottawa as an opponent as well. With an atrocious 2-3-5 record over their last 10 games, the Panthers are generally believed to be the weakest team heading into the postseason. But, Washington is battling through tough times as well with injuries to goaltenders Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth.
Net need: Without Vokoun and Neuvirth, the Capitals were forced to recall Dany Sabourin from the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears on Friday. The 31-year-old netminder has not started an NHL game in more than three years; his last game was a 5-3 loss to Colorado Jan. 10, 2009. Sabourin is expected to back up youngster Braden Holtby on Saturday.
Stepan's OK: Derek Stepan, whose injury on a knee-to-knee hit by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik set coach John Tortorella off on an epic rant, appears to be fine. The 21-year-old center did not practice with the team Friday, but will play in the team's season finale against the Caps. Orpik, who earned a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct on the play, escaped any supplementary discipline.
Chunk of change: Following Thursday's expletive-riddled outburst, in which he blasted Orpik and the Penguins organization, Tortorella was docked $20,000 by the league. It was the second hefty fine assessed to the fiery coach; he was also hit with a $30,000 punishment earlier this season after criticizing the officiating in the Winter Classic in January.