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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Alex Ovechkin has gotten hot at the right time of the season

Few knew what was wrong with Alex Ovechkin early and even heading into the middle of the season. In his first 43 games of 2023-24, Ovechkin scored just eight goals and logged a 5.4 shooting percentage. For context, that’s lower than even some defensemen who aren’t known for being two-way players. So it’s easy to justify that some may have thought the 38-year-old was finished and ultimately wouldn’t catch Wayne Gretzky in all-time goals scored

But wow, did that change in the final 36 games when Ovechkin scored 23 times, good for 0.639 goals per game in that span. He was a key reason the Capitals stayed in the wild card and, at times, the top-three hunt in the Metro Division. It’s also important to note he did all this after the Caps moved one of their best scorers.

Sure, they were going to move Evgeny Kuznetsov, but losing Anthony Mantha didn’t help this team from a scoring standpoint, considering the year he was having. Or so we thought, as Ovechkin started taking over games, scoring 13 goals and contributing to another five, good for 18 points in those final 21 contests. 

This isn’t saying Ovechkin putting up big numbers is what the Rangers must worry about. But his very presence and the fact he’s peaking at the right time means the Blueshirts must key on him because he’s either scoring or creating scoring chances for someone else.