It’s groundhog day again, and it’s the Rangers playing the Capitals in the playoffs for the 4th time in 5 seasons. I have to say this matchup is getting very boring. Although this year I have to say it’s a little bit different. The Capitals have a new coach, the Rangers have Rick Nash, there’s no Alex Semin, Ovi is back, and Mike Ribiero is the Capitals number one center among other things.
Let’s talk about the Capitals for a bit to start. They come into this playoff series ending their season on real hot streak going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Alex Ovechkin in that time has amassed 15 points. It also should be mentioned Ovechkin won the Rocket Richard trophy with 32 goals on the year.
They also have a two headed attack at center with Backstrom and Ribiero. Both players finished with 48 and 49 points respectively. The defense for the Capitals is basically the same from last years playoffs, minus current Rangers press box club member Roman Hamrlik.
Now that you know about the Capitals a bit let’s get to a break down.
Rangers centers vs Capitals centers
Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Brad Richards, Darroll Powe, Brian Boyle (injured)
Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Ribiero, Marcus Johansson, Mathieu Perreault, Brooks Laich (injured)
Thoughts: Very close on paper though I’d have to give the nod to the Rangers. Rangers essentially have 3 centers that are capable of playing top 6 minutes now that Brad Richards is showing signs of life again. Brian Boyle is also a possibility to come back this series, while Brooks Laich will be injured likely until the second round of the playoffs.
Rest of the forwards for both teams
It basically comes down to Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Carl Hagelin, Mats Zuccarello,Taylor Pyatt, Ryane Clowe vs. Ovechkin, Ward, Erat, Brouwer, Chimera, Hendricks, Beagle, Fehr.
I’ll call it dead even. The real battle will be Nash vs Ovechkin. Top snipers going blow for blow. Whoever has a better series could very easily be walking away the winners along with the rest of their team.
Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stralman, Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, John Moore, Marc Staal (injured)
Mike Green, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, John Erskine, Jack Hillen, Steve Oleksy, Tomas Kundratek
Top 4 defenseman I’d say it’s pretty close. Once you get into the 5th and 6th defenseman however, I think the Rangers have an advantage. Add in the fact Staal may return and the Rangers have a definite edge. Very few teams in the league at the moment have the kind of depth the Rangers suddenly do on defense.
Henrik Lundqvist-Martin Biron.
Braden Holtby-Michael Neuvirth.
It seems like every playoff series the Rangers and the Capitals played each other, the Capitals would be starting their “goalie of the future”. In 09′ it was Semyon Varlamov, in 11′ it was Neuvirth, and last year it was Holtby. Looks like Holtby will be sticking around now though, well for at least this playoff series.
Any rate I’d have to pick Lundqvist and the Rangers. Holtby’s found his groove in the last couple weeks, but the King is back on his game so give me the reigning Vezina trophy winner and most consistent goalie post 2004 lockout any day.
A heart wrenching coin flip off a series is what I predict. I don’t think we’ll see a ton of offense this series and the team that makes fewer mistakes I think will come out on top. I don’t see this being a cakewalk for either team. The Rangers have had the Capitals number a bit of late but I don’t think any of that matters going into this series. 7 games would not surprise me between these two teams.