There are some great playoff matches on tap in the East this year. An Original Six match-up of Boston vs. Montreal, a interstate rivalry between Pittsburgh and Philly, the hot Hurricane vs. the cold Devils...and Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals facing off against Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers.
I will be watching the entire Rangers-Caps series, some at the Garden and some on tv. I expect it will be a very good series. The Rangers had an up and down year, starting very strong, free-falling, and then picking it back up with a coaching change and addition of several new players.
Washington was quite consistent, with Ovechkin and coach Bruce Boudreau leading the team to a 50 win season, 16 points ahead of the Rangers.
The series will come down to a very strong Washington offense going against the Rangers’ strong defense. The Caps have the biggest forward threat in Ovechkin, but also the biggest offensive threat from the blueline in Michael Green.
This year, the forward lines are more balanced, with Backstrom, Semin, and Federov all threats the rangers will have to try to shut down.
Henrik Lundqvist’s goaltending will be by far the most important counter to the Cap’s threat. He is now clearly established as one of the top goalies in the league, and even under Tortorella, the Rangers play an system that makes it difficult to find open space.
They will also need to hope that their underachieving offense, led by Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, can find a way to break through consistently on Jose Theodore.
The Rangers have a good chance of taking one of the first two, which will make it a fun series when they go back to New York, however, expect to see Washington take it in six.
The Rangers can only shut down Ovechkin and his cohorts for so long, and will find that the Capitals are a team that don’t quit.