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Reaves ready, Ovechkin a game-time decision for Caps-Rangers tilt

Sportsnet logo Sportsnet 2021-10-13 Sportsnet Staff
a group of hockey players on the field: Rangers-Capitals © Provided by Sportsnet Rangers-Capitals

Ryan Reaves is set to make his debut for the New York Rangers on Wednesday night, while Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin says he’ll be a game-time decision for a much-anticipated season opener between the Metropolitan Division rivals.

Reaves, acquired in the off-season from the Vegas Golden Knights in a move to add toughness to the Rangers’ lineup, suffered a leg injury last week.

Ovechkin has been listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury suffered last week.

The teams lock horns for the first time since a game featuring six fights in the first five minutes last May.

That game came days after polarizing Capitals forward Tom Wilson was fined for his antics during a second-period scrum against the Rangers.

Reaves wasn’t yet with the Rangers at the time of that last bout, but his arrival via trade (and subsequent signing) sent a clear message league-wide that the Rangers are prepared to play with a physical edge — regardless of their opponent.

“When you rebuild a team like this and that’s the emphasis on the off-season, I think you want to make sure that you’re coming out with that attitude. You don’t want to kind of limp into the the season and build on it with the physicality and then have to talk about it. You want it to be there from Day One and have it be part of your identity for the rest of the year,” Reaves said during his media availability on Wednesday. “So, yeah, I expect it to be a physical game but it’s not going to be any more physical from our team than any of the other games. This just happens to be Game 1 against another physical team.”

He made it clear that his preparations ahead of this tone-setting game are not different from the way he readies himself for every matchup.

“It is just another game. I’ve gone through this many times in my career, I’ve played guys I’ve hated before and had rivalry games all the time. So I just go about it how I usually go about it,” he said.

Wilson, too, knows there will be plenty of eyes on him in this highly anticipated matchup, and indicated he’s not altering his approach.

“They’ve got a lot of new faces, new personnel, that I’m sure are gonna try and make an impact on the game. Opening night is always an exciting one, and if you ask them this is a big rivalry now, so we’ll expect that,” he said, adding a subtle dig.

“Having a big, physical first night with the Rangers just isn’t where we want to be this year.”

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