The New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals are set to meet in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The New York Rangers (4-1) and the Washington Capitals (4-3) will be facing each other in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. The big, tough Capitals are again up against a quick team. They barely scraped by the first round, let’s see how they handle an even better team.
These two teams are pretty evenly matched across the board. So far in the postseason, both are average when it comes to puck possession. The Rangers are controlling 48.6 percent, Capitals are controlling 50.6 percent. They both need some help on the power play. New York has a success rate of 15 percent and Washington are only slightly above them with a 15.4 percent. This is nothing new for the Rangers, they’ve been struggling in this department all season. On the other hand, this is strange for the Capitals who finished the regular season ranked first in the league with a 25.3 percent success rate.
At least Washington’s penalty kill has been extremely effective so far in the playoffs. They killed all 14 power plays in round one against the Islanders. What will be challenging for the Capitals this round, is going up against some of the best goaltending in the league.
Backed by a great defense, the Rangers ended the regular season third in goals against. But the real star behind that, is goalie Henrik Lundqvist. In round one against the Penguins, he gave up eight goals in five games. Considering Pittsburgh has star forwards like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, that’s pretty amazing. Lundqvist should have no problem shutting down Alex Ovechkin then.
With players like Ovechkin, the Capitals have a lot of strong veteran leadership that how how to get the job done on the ice. However, the Rangers are fresh off making the finals last year and they aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
PLAYERS TO LOOK FOR:
New York’s Henrik Lundqvist is already racking up impressive numbers in the postseason. He is second in goals against average with a 1.54, tied for third in save percentage with .939 and tied for first for wins with four. If Lundqvist can shut down Washington’s big scorers, this series could go quicker than expected.
Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom is another obvious answer. He is someone every opponent is going to have their eye on. So far, he’s managed to avoid being silenced. In round one against the Islanders, he picked up three goals, three assists, and six points.
New York lost Mats Zuccarello (upper body) indefinitely in their first series against the Penguins.
Washington’s Garrett Stafford is suffering a serious head injury that has resulted in internal bleeding. Eric Fehr (upper body) skated on his on before Wednesday’s practice. He’s not expected to play in Game 1 but did travel with the team.
The fact that the Capitals just scraped by against the Islanders has me doubting their ability to keep up with the Rangers. They may be a rough and tough team but the Rangers have more than speed to back them up. I’m taking New York in 6.
GAME 1: April 30, New York vs. Washington 7:30ET/6:30CT NBCSN
GAME 2: May 2, New York vs. Washington 12:30ET/11:30CT CNBC
GAME 3: May 4, New York @ Washington 7:30ET/6:30CT USA
GAME 4: May 6, New York @ Washington 7:30ET/6:30CT NBCSN
IF GAME 5: May 8, New York vs. Washington 7:00ET/6:00CT NBCSN
IF GAME 6: May 10, New York @ Washington TBA
IF GAME 7: May 13, New York vs. Washington TBA
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