Three Keys to Rangers beating the Capitals in Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

May 13, 2015; New York, NY, USA; the New York Rangers shake hands with the Washington Capitals over
May 13, 2015; New York, NY, USA; the New York Rangers shake hands with the Washington Capitals over / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Star Talent

New York possesses star talent that only some organizations across the NHL can rival, especially among the forward core. Players like Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Vincent Trocheck, and Artemi Panarin will be vital this time of year. Panarin, in particular, could cement his sensational season with some playoff production to help bring the Stanley Cup back to Manhatten. After his poor showing last year, you know he will want to make amends this year.

It feels weird to say that Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider had down years this year when they put up more than 70 points each, but they both struggled to produce at even strength this year. New York's powerplay is something we will come onto later, but these two are going to need to step up their five-on-five production. Both had almost 30 points on the powerplay, and those do not come around as frequently in the postseason as in the regular season.

However, both players can turn the script on the season if they have dominant playoff performances, and they will get to ease into the troubled waters of the postseason with this Capitals series. It won't be as demanding from the outset as other series might be. Starting well will be necessary, but it is less critical than for different teams in other series.

Panarin, Trocheck, and Alexis Lafreniere were the trio that seemed to bail the Rangers out of trouble when they found themselves in a situation where they needed a goal. If that trio can take that clutchness they exerted through the season and bring it to a new level in the playoffs, the Rangers will be tough to beat, but the defensive games in the postseason will take a step up. It means this line will need to be even better.