Blog Entry

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 8 Rangers

Posted on: April 12, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 7:34 pm
 


The Capitals return to the playoffs as the East's top seed -- a year after being upset by Montreal in the first round -- with a new defensive philosophy they hope can take them to the Cup. The Rangers were a bit fortuitous to earn their first playoff berth since their first-round exit to the same Capitals two seasons ago, thanks to a Hurricanes loss in the final game of the season.

Here's the breakdown.

Forwards: Any line that starts with the name Alexander Ovechkin immediately has an advantage over almost any other you can throw out. When you look up and down the Caps' lines, it doesn't drop much either, especially when at full strength. And it looks like they are on their way to being just that as Alexander Semin seems prepared to return. It's especially a mismatch when looking at the Rangers' group of forwards. There's Marian Gaborik (22 goals this season) and then four centers all with at least 18 goals. But the loss of Ryan Callahan is huge for an offense that has the tendency to disappear at times.

Edge: Capitals

Defensemen: One nice asset the Rangers have on the blue line is Dan Girardi, who never found a puck he wouldn't dive in front of. The human shield led the league in blocked shots this year, which comes as little surprise. But there's little offensive production from this group, with Girardi leading the way with 31 points. It's no secret why he and Marc Staal (seven goals) clock the most time on the back end for the Blueshirts. For the Capitals, this is the unit that has taken a good load of the blame for recent playoff flameouts, so people are anxious to see if things really have gotten better. The regular-season stats certainly reflect that as the Caps were fourth in the league in goals allowed. And we've seen what Mike Green is capable of with the puck, perhaps one of the most offensively gifted defensemen in hockey. They'll need him back from his concussion to join John Carlson. Coach Bruce Boudreau says he expects Green to go in Game 1.

Edge: Push

Goalies: If you could lump three into one, I'm taking the Capitals. They have three very promising goalies in Semyon Varlamov, Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth, but the big question remains: who's their main guy? It's like the old saying in football; if you have two (or in this case three) starting quarterbacks, you really have none. I'm not sure that's entirely the case here, all goalies have shown to be very capable, so the lack of a starter is a bit more of an indication of their quality. But, as you know, only one goalie can play at a time -- shocking news, I know. And at this point, none is as good as Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist. He's in the Vezina discussion after leading the league with 11 shutouts and being perhaps the biggest reason New York has made it this far. The concerns are the fact that Lundqvist was in goal for the last 26 games of the season and that his primary backup, Marty Biron, is still injured. It's unclear if he'll be able to play if needed.

Edge: Rangers

Special teams: Despite the offensive talent they have shown in the past, Washington wasn't fantastic on the power play this season, coming in at 16th in the league with a 17.5 percent conversion rate. The Rangers check in a bit lower on the totem pole, posting the league's 18th best mark at 16.9 percent. You won't find a player in this series appearing in the top 30 for power-play goals this year (Callahan was tied for 18th with 10). Neither team is spectacular, so let's call it a wash. Defensively -- and this might surprise some considering past years -- the Caps were the league's second-most efficient team at killing penalties (85.6 percent). The Rangers are no slouches either, killing 83.7 percent of penalties. It's worth noting the Capitals took less penalties this season than the Rangers, too.

Edge: Slightly to the Capitals

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

Comments
kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 6:30 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Mar 25, 2008
Posted on: April 13, 2011 5:11 pm
 

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 8 Rangers

The Rangers have one chance in this series: Lundqvist.  If the Caps can score first, shutting down the Rangers offense should be easy.  Callahan was the Rag best two-way player and now he's out.  The Rangers are hoping to use three first-year defenseman and the aging Brian McCabe to shut down the Caps 2nd line - not likely.



Since: Oct 20, 2008
Posted on: April 13, 2011 4:22 pm
 

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 8 Rangers

@cluelessav - It was to point out what an incredible lack of depth the Rangers have.  My guess is that you don't even realize what an impact Callahan's loss will have on your chances.  There's no way the Rangers measure up to the Caps' level of talent, let alone the Flyers or any potential West Conf opponent in the Final.

And you can say anything you want to say about our coach, but he has a ring.
Which year did he win that for the Rangers, I don't remember... oh yeah- it was with a much more talented Tampa team.

Remember this conversation in a week when you are shaking your head wondering what the hell happened to your #1 seeded Caps. Chokers!!!! Yeah I know this year will be different!!!!
Big words for a fan of a team that backed into the playoffs from the strength of a Carolina loss.



Since: Feb 12, 2008
Posted on: April 13, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 8 Rangers

Your coach's claim to fame is looking like Santa Claus in his red jump suit.
That and chowing down on Haagen Daaz at 10:30 in the morning.  Ahh good ol Bruce will never live that one down!



Since: May 20, 2007
Posted on: April 13, 2011 2:52 pm
 

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 8 Rangers

@ - What do any of the players that played in the past have anything to do with who are playing tonight? And you can say anything you want to say about our coach, but he has a ring. Your coach's claim to fame is looking like Santa Claus in his red jump suit. Remember this conversation in a week when you are shaking your head wondering what the hell happened to your #1 seeded Caps. Chokers!!!! Yeah I know this year will be different!!!!



Since: Mar 26, 2008
Posted on: April 13, 2011 2:32 pm
 

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 8 Rangers

# 1 vs # 8? No contest. Rangers in six!! Go blueshirts!!



Since: Oct 20, 2008
Posted on: April 13, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 8 Rangers

@cluelessav - what about Colton Orr and Michal Rozsival ?  You know, all those really highly skilled players from years' past ?  Are they still there ?  They must've been an absolute terror for other teams last year, when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, right ?

Tell Torts to bring his umbrella; I would hate if some phantom spitter managed to make him lose his cool or anything...

Caps in 5 - but don't worry, Glen Sather will still somehow manage to keep his job...



Since: Apr 25, 2008
Posted on: April 13, 2011 2:25 pm
 

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 8 Rangers

goaltending wins and loses a playoff series.  remember Halak last year? 

Caps are the better team, but the rangers have the better goalie.  lundquist is the the caps goalie rotation what OV is to the rangers Fwds.... a shit ton better

if the caps don't have meltdowns in net they win.  if they end up rotating in goalies because they all are meh and dont get good play they can very well lose. 

and for all those people who say we backed into the playoffs didnt we go like 7-3 in the last 10 games and we were getting screwed by the dumb ass tie rules where even though we had like 3 more wins then the canes they didnt count because we won games in OT and shootout and the new dumb rules don't count those wins in tie breakers.  lame

our goalie led the league in shutouts too including two vs the caps.  we can win but its on henrik's back if we do. 




Since: Feb 16, 2009
Posted on: April 13, 2011 2:07 pm
 

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 8 Rangers

This is not the same Caps team the Rangers played earlier in the year. I'll pinch you know so you can wake up from your dream. Caps in 5, baby...



Since: May 20, 2007
Posted on: April 13, 2011 1:33 pm
 

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 8 Rangers

If you have to ask if Redden is still on the team you have no business commenting. You also probably have no idea how the Rangers play and the reasons for their success,  except of course from the ass beatings we gave you during the season. You will quickly find out and your underachieving Caps will once again go into the offseason with even more questions than last season.
Rangers in 6 or 7.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com