New York Rangers(1) vs. Washington Capitals(7): Eastern Conference Semi-Finals
LETS GO RANGERS!
Cliff notes for newbs:
The top remaining seed, the New York Rangers, look to make up for past playoff failures against the 7th seeded Washington Capitals. Both teams are coming off of tough 7 game series. Washington was able to upset the defending champion Boston Bruins with tough defense and excellent goal tending by former 3rd stringer, Braden Holtby. The Capitals are lead by arguably the most talented player in the world, Alexander Ovechkin. They also have talented center Nic Backstrom and one of the best offensive defensemen in Mike Green. The past 2 times these teams have met the Capitals have won the series. In 2009, the 7th seeded Rangers took the 2nd seeded Capitals to a game 7 only to fall just short in Game 7 on a Sergei Federov goal. In 2011, the top seeded Capitals beat the Rangers in 5 with 4 very close wins over the Rangers.
Game 1: Saturday April 28 3:00 PM @ Madison Square Garden
Game 2: Monday April 30 7:30 PM @ Madison Square Garden
Game 3 Wednesday May 2 7:30 @ Verizon Center
Game 4: Saturday May 5 12:30 @ Verizon Center
Game 5: Monday May 7 7:30 @ Madison Square Garden*
Game 6: Wednesday May 9 TBD @ Verizon Center*
Game 7: Saturday May 12 TBD @ Madison Square Garden*
Caps have been playing defense out of their mind. Carlson and Alzner might be playing as well as any D pair in the league. Hammrlik and Greenie have been real solid moving the puck and playing the boards. Wideman is pretty decent in the 3rd pair but his partner to me is in doubt. Schultz can mostly skate and has height but doesn't move the puck well. John Erskine brings size and grittiness, but doesn't skate well or handle the puck well. Dmitri Orlov had a pretty solid 2/3 of the season when he came up but didn't see a minute in the Boston series likely due to his lack of size. Could be interesting if he sees any ice this series. Skates real smooth, moves the puck well, has a howitzer from the point, and loves hitting.
It's already been mentioned, but Holtby has been out of his mind. I actually kind of grinned when Michael Neuvirth got hurt at the end of the year because I liked Holtby best going into the post season. I think he has great vision, moves the puck real well, and plays with so much confidence. With that said, he still makes some rookie mistakes like trying to swat away the goal the other night instead of just covering the puck.
Ovie didn't set the world on fire against Boston but that was with him dealing with Chara and Seidenberg all series. Second line with Backstrom, Johansson, and Semin can be lethal especially if your top D pairing is matched up with the Ovi, Laich, Chimera line which obviously has plenty of speed and skill as well. Beagle, Brouwer, and Hendricks are annoying as all get up. They will mix it up with you, they will do work against the boards, and all three play very well both ways especially Beagle. Beagle made a living PKing against the Bruins. Fourth line is what a fourth line is. They will forecheck you till the lights are out in the arena and as a result they force turnovers. Mike Knuble has shown some wily veteran presence, Ward has really looked good especially along the boards and Keith Aucoin skates well and like any pivot can put the puck anywhere.
That said it's going to be a great series. I don't seeing it going less than 7. I'd like to say the Caps take it, but that might be the red glasses. King Henrick scares the crap out of me but hopefully they can create enough chances skating and moving the puck well. Best of luck fellas!
got to the game yesterday..great atmosphere. A very even match which came down to goaltending. Personally speaking, the caps looked spent not playing all that physical. I expect them to come out much more physical in game 2 but couldnt help but wonder if they are worn out after the B's series.
Great effort by the Rangers defense and the most potent line combo was easily cally, stepan and kreider. Liked what I saw from Fedex and rupp in limited action, thought his run at Holtby early on was the right move even though he ended up getting called (very questionable IMHO).
Another disappearing act from Gabby. torts was really giving it to him on the bench in the 2nd.
Dont get discouraged BRJ. The Rangers played very well the other night and the turnovers and penalties killed them. Overall, i thought they outplayed the Caps.
I expect the Rangers to have a very solid performance and come away with a win tonight in a close contest. The Rangers have been a much better road team throughout the course of the season and always rebound well off a loss.
That being said, Gabby played very well last game but he needs to score some goals if the Rangers are going to win this series. I have been a very vocal critic of his and its damn well time he proves me wrong.