Marian Gaborik

Capitals Tonight

The Rangers close out their season series against the Capitals tonight – MSG+ 7:00pm and game thread – and will be hoping to even the series at 2-2. The last time the Capitals played the Rangers, they leaped out to a 5-3 lead on the back of four power play goals, only to lose 6-5 in regulation.

Going into tonight’s game, the Rangers find themselves tied for eighth, with a chance to move up to seventh – check out the Games to Watch thread – or tenth, depending on how things work out. They’ll get their leading scorer, right wing Marian Gaborik back in the line-up for the first time since February 12th.

How healthy Gaborik really is remains uncertain. He initially suffered a deep gash to the leg while practicing back in the second week of February that caused him to miss the 3-1 loss to Nashville, and though he tried to play against the Penguins, he managed just one period before leaving the ice. The Slovak native did manage to play in the Olympics, but it is believed he suffered a groin strain which has kept him out of the first two games since the NHL season resumed.

Rangers fans who’re unhappy with the way that Glen Sather has managed the team have arranged a protest outside of MSG on Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see how many show up given the Rangers’ recent improved play, particularly if they find a way to win tonight.

NCAA Prospect Update
Several Rangers prospects will potentially have their seasons ended over the next two weeks. The CCHA began their playoffs last night with Carl Hagelin and Michigan winning their first game 5-2 in the best of three series with Lake Superior. They’ll try to move on tonight with another win tonight, or will face the prospect of playing a deciding game on Sunday.

Max Campbell and the Western Michigan Broncos traveled to Fairbanks to face the Nanooks in their first round match-up, and came away with a 4-0 loss. Another loss today would end their season.

Both Michigan and Western Michigan will likely have to win the CCHA tournament if they hope to be part of the NCAA finals.

In Hockey East, Chris Kreider and Boston College needed a win last night against UNH for a chance to secure first seed in the conference, but the Wildcats came back to tie the came and take the season title. They’ll play again tonight in the final regular season game which will have no effect on their second place standings. The Eagles will face one of either BU, Merrimack, UMass, Northeastern or Vermont in next week’s first round of the playoffs.

Danny Hobbs and UMass meanwhile need a win tonight to ensure they’ll be playing next week. The Minutemen are up in Orono, ME this weekend and will try to repeat last night’s 5-2 win over the Black Bears.

The fifth ranked Eagles are almost certain to play in the NCAA finals regardless of their finish in the Hockey East finals, while unranked UMass will need to win it all to secure a spot going forward.

Out west in the WCHA, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh are seemingly guaranteed to feature in the NCAA post season along with the Wisconsin Badgers – ranked third in the nation. The Badgers ensured they’ll finish second to Denver in the conference, with a 3-2 win over the Golden Gophers of Minnesota last night. Wisconsin will face Minnesota again Sunday in the final game before the playoffs.

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