New York Rangers Players to Watch in 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Matthew CalamiaCorrespondent IApril 13, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09: Chris Drury #23 of the New York Rangers skates in warmups prior to the game against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on April 9, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Jonathan Klein/Getty Images)
Jonathan Klein/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals are arguably the most star-studded team in the NHL.

It is easy to pin-point the difference makers on their end against the New York Rangers in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But what about the New York Rangers? 

Henrik Lundqvist: The most obvious pick, Henrik Lundqvist has been the backbone of this organization since he debuted in 2005.

The Rangers will need Lundqvist to possibly stand on his head to defeat the high-powered offense the Capitals have. He nearly stole the series against Washington in 2009, and now he has a more equipped and more experienced top defensive pair in front of him. If Lundqvist can steal a game or two, the Rangers could be good shape against a team that is easily frustrated.

The Rangers can only go as long as far as Lundqvist can carry them.


Dan Girardi/Marc Staal: These two have quietly become one of the best shutdown defensive pairs in the NHL, and will play monster minutes against Washington's top-line featuring the great Alexander Ovechkin.

Girardi and Staal don't bring much offense, but who cares? These two block everything, and the less shots that come Lundqvist's way, the better chance the Rangers have at winning.


Marian Gaborik: Is there a more enigmatic player in the NHL this season than Marian Gaborik?

A season after scoring 42 goals, Gaborik was held to just 22 goals this year. Sure he's played hurt, but you expect more out of a $7 million sniper. He has to find his rhythm, especially with Ryan Callahan out of the lineup.

This team is starved for goals, and need their offensive leader to step up in a big way. Ranger fans have seen what the Silent Sniper can do, and hope to see it again in Washington.


Chris Drury: Yes, that Chris Drury.

With Callahan out of the lineup, the team needs a spark and a leader, and who better than Captain Clutch? In his first game back on his first shift from knee-surgery, the captain scored a clutch goal against the Devils in the regular season finale.

He isn't the offensive player he used to be, but can still provide strong penalty-killing and big faceoff wins. 


Brian Boyle: Here is a guy who coach John Tortorella said he had written off going into training camp, who ends up scoring 21 goals.

He came back to life in the second-half, but now the expectations have been raised for Boyle. He has to use his size and create traffic for the Capitals in front of the net and cash in some dirty goals.

Boyle has become a leader on this squad and I look for him to blossom in his first playoff series.


Honorable Mentions: Brandon Dubinsky has to be more consistent; no more stretches of invisibility offensively.

Sean Avery can play a role if given the opportunity, but has to play with his head more than his heart. Derek Stepan has to step-up and put some pucks in net with the absence of Callahan.


Follow me on Twitter @matt_calamia


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