There will be many battles that will be fought in the first round between the Rangers and Capitals but I think they’re two matchups that will ultimately determine the series. I honestly can’t see the team that wins these two battles not win the series.
Rick Nash vs Alexander Ovechkin
Over a full season I’d take Ovechkin over Nash on my team, especially an Ovechkin that’s coming off a Rocket Richard. But that doesn’t mean Rick Nash isn’t capable of outperforming Ovi in a seven game series. By and large I think this will be a low scoring series and whichever superstar can find the most time and space will help his team immensely.
Henrik Lundqvist vs Braden Holtby
Even though Henrik Lundqvist is arguably the best goalie in the world and most consistent keeper since the 2004 lockout, he’s had his fair share of tough goalie battles. Over the years we’ve seen guys like Varlamov, Anderson, Miller, Neuvirth, and it pains me to say Marc-Andre Fleury go almost save for save against him. That’s not his fault necessarily, as the Rangers up until last year have at times left Lundqvist out to dry basically. They still do that today on occasion it’s just much less frequent.
Braden Holtby though is a very good goalie and a future star in the NHL in my estimation. We say glimpses of that last year in the playoffs. This matchup is huge which really goes without saying. Rangers need to hope Lundqvist can steal a few games like he did last year in the playoffs to get an edge over Holtby and the Caps. Lundqvist is capable of stealing games. I don’t know if Holtby is. We’ve seen Holtby hold down the fort but I don’t think we’ve seen him literally carry his team like Lundqvist has. It will be interesting as to what happens between the pipes for both teams.
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