NEW YORK -- With the Washington Capitals securely in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's not as though 22-year-old Braden Holtby has the weight of the world on his shoulders against the Rangers on Saturday night.
But with a Southeast Division title within reach -- a Washington win coupled with a regulation loss by the Florida Panthers would make if five straight for the Capitals -- Holtby is facing some pressure. If the Capitals lose, they will be right back at Madison Square Garden as the No. 8 seed for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the top-seeded Rangers.
Holtby is 3-2-1 this season and will be filling in for Michal Neuvirth, who is day-to-day with a leg injury that coach Dale Hunter said isn't serious, and Tomas Vokoun, who is out with a groin injury. Holtby played well in road games against the Flyers and Red Wings in March, something Hunter feels will help Holtby against the League's top team.
"He went to Detroit and played well, he went to Philly and played well, and those are pretty hard buildings to play in," Hunter said. "There was a lot at stake. He came up big for us."
The Rangers will win the Presidents' Trophy for the first time since 1993-94 with a win, which means the Capitals won't have anything handed to them.
"We still have stuff on the line, so do the Rangers," Hunter said. "It's one of those games when everyone is going to be battling like any other game. We have to play our best because they're well-balanced, they have good goaltending."
The only lineup change for the Caps will be Joel Ward replacing Mike Knuble. Ward has been out since blocking a shot against the Flyers on March 22. Knuble has just two assists in his past eight games and played just 6:43 in the Capitals' 4-2 win against the Panthers on Thursday.
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Keith Aucoin - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Joel Ward
Karl Alzner - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson