Capitals—Rangers: Series Preview

Wayne VienerContributor IApril 14, 2009

13 Jun 1998: Dale Hunter #32 of the Washington Capitals in action during the Stanley Cup Finals game against the Detroit Red Wings at the MCI Center in Washington, D. C.. The Red Wings defeated the Capitals 2-1.

Eleven years ago the Capitals made their only trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.  You can see Captain Dale Hunter taking the puck to the net.  The Caps lost the series 4 - 0 to the Red Wings

Can the Capitals make a second venture to the finals?  Good question. The journey will start with the Rangers on Wednesday night (4/15/2009).  Game two is also at the Phone Booth (Verizon Center (formerly MCI Center)) on Saturday at 1pm. 

I have been a Capitals fan since the inception of the franchise. This is a hard group of fellows in which to have great confidence.  Unfortunately, the team had a bit of a "choking dog" syndrome. 

From countless battles against the Islanders (remember the World's Longest Game loss in the late 1980's), to finding multiple ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against the Penguins, the Caps don't often live up to potential.

Is this the time that the franchise shines? 

There are a few reasons for hesitance:

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1. Weak goaltending: Jose Theodore is not Olaf Kolzig or even last years fill-in Huet.

2. Great offense from the defense: Great defense from the defensemen would be good.

3. No power forward: Our super-quick open ice skaters are not grinders.  We need to find someone to stand in front of the opposing goalie and create havoc.

Here are a some good reasons to be hopeful:

1. We have some of the greatest players in the world.

2. Our defense can score. 

3. This is our second time through the playoffs, that experience will help.

Overall, I look for the Caps to beat the Rangers in six games.  I think the train stops in the next series.  For next year, look for one of the backup goalies to take over and the addition of one or two true power forwards (think a John Druce type).