3 reasons the NY Rangers can fall into a major trap in Round 1

The NY Rangers may be the best team in hockey, but they are facing a Washington Capitals team looking to pull off a major upset.
Ottawa Senators v New York Rangers
Ottawa Senators v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Okay, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves for what could be a deceptive playoff series in the First Round between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals. From a statistical standpoint, it should be an easy win for the Blueshirts, who finished the 2023-24 season with 282 goals scored, good for sixth in the league. New York also finished with a plus-53 goal differential after allowing just 229 goals. 

Then, you got the Capitals, who found the net just 220 times, or 2.68 goals per game. They finished 28th in the category, and they also ended the year outside the top 16 in goals allowed with 257. If you’re keeping track, the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Rangers are playing a team that ended the year with a minus-37. So, if you aren’t looking too deeply into this series or are only looking at basic numbers, it’s an easy win for the Rangers, right?

NY Rangers cannot afford to fall into a trap vs. the Capitals

If you even look remotely deeper into this upcoming series, you will also see all the makings of a potential trap series. For starters, we need to remember that the Capitals did enough to become one of those eight playoff teams. And if the trade deadline back in March told us anything, they made it clear that their season was over. 

Or at least that was logical thinking nearly a month-and-a-half ago, but that wasn’t the case for a team that finished 11-8-2 following the deadline despite a minus-10 goal differential in that same span. Sure, it meant the Capitals suffered some blowout losses, but it also seemed like they won every close game they played in. 

To be accurate, they won six of those 11 games by just one goal, but wow, talk about a team that’s never fazed when it’s crunch time. If the Caps keep it close, they will make this a series, but let’s discuss three other reasons why the Rangers can fall into a trap against Washington.