These two teams are bitter playoffs rivals, as this will be the third time in four years that they square off. For Washington, this series is all about trying to prove to the league that they CAN win a Stanley Cup, while the Rangers, who are definitely the favorites, look to continue their march for their first Cup since ‘94.
Both teams have had tremendous goaltending. Lundqvist has sustained a .945 save percentage, while Braden Holtby has surprised the league with a marvelous .940 SV% and a goals allowed average of 2. Neither of these two goalies have had much success in the past, but one will have to be in this series. Because of the two teams’ high octane offenses, the goalie that bows under the pressure will be the one that loses the series. Look for a stellar performance by one of the two netminders.
The two offenses are also very closely matched. Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan have been good through the first round, as have Alex Semin and Alexander Ovechkin. The performances of these players will be essential, as one could easily imagine. If they can’t perform as well as they can, an exit similar to the Blackhawks-Coyotes series could occur.
Both of the defenses have good offensive defensemen while still having some of the stay-at-home variety. For the Caps, no single defensive pairing is overloaded with minutes, while the Rangers are reliant on Dan Girardi’s and Ryan McDonagh’s help on the blue line. This could be exploited by the Capitals, for they have enough good offensive lines to tire Girardi and McDonagh. This will be a critical area in the series; if Girardi and McDonagh play a smart shutdown game in their own zone, the Rangers will win the series.
My prediction: Capitals in 6. They’re hot, and they match up well against the Rangers. Washington has won the last two playoff series against New York, and there is no reason to expect a different result this time.