April 11, 2011

Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers

If you just look at the standings, this is without a doubt an extremely lopsided series. 1st vs 8th place, and the Capitals are ahead of the Rangers by a total of 14 points. However, despite clearly being the underdogs in this seasons, the New York Rangers will not just lie down for the Washington Capitals. In fact the Rangers actually won the season series going 3-1 in the 4 meetings between the 2 teams. However, why people should not sleep on the Rangers in this series, isn’t only the fact that they won the season series. But what was more impressive is how they won it. The Rangers gave the Capitals 2 of the worst beatings of the year, first a 7-0 shutout, and then they blanked them yet another time winning 6-0! So over a 2 game span the Rangers outscored the Capitals 13-0, so they know that it is possible to upset the 1st place team! However, that 6-0 game is also very important for another reason; that game was without a doubt the turning point of the Capitals season. In fact, after that blowout loss to the Rangers, Washington went on an absolute tear, finishing off the year going 16-3-1, collecting 33 of the last 40 possible points! In my opinion, the Rangers awoke a sleeping giant, and I’m sure the rest of the Eastern Conference isn’t too happy about that. Washington has quite simply been incredible, Ovechkin and company are finally firing on all cylinders! Ovi admittedly had a down year, however, that is in large part due to Washington’s commitment to defense this year. After being beat by Montreal despite having a very potent offensive team, they realized that a more balanced approach would be more conducive to success in the playoffs. We will find out if that strategy worked this week, as they will put the newly more “balanced” team to the test!

The Rangers advantage is without a doubt the goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist led the league in shutouts, and is one of the NHL’s best, while Washington is going to have to pick between 2 inexperienced and most unproven goalies in Varlamov & Neuvirth. So if the Rangers win this series But up front, it isn’t even close, the Capitals are simply on a different level. And the loss of Ryan Callahan cannot be understated, he was the heart & soul of that team, and without a doubt the MVP along with Lundqvist. Not only was he great offensively, but he was a tremendous shot-blocker for them. Huge loss for the Rangers!

In my opinion, Washington is just too strong to lose this. I truly believe the fact that they are a more balanced team this year will translate into a deep playoff run for the Capitals.

Capitals in 5. I Just don’t think the Rangers have the offense.

Grant Robinson

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