With the playoffs on the horizon, I wanted to put together previews of each series, but more specifically, I wanted to put together the type of previews I’d want to read. Bite-sized, few stats, and little splash of opinion for seasoning. This is my attempt at providing that.
3) Washington Capitals vs. 6) New York Rangers
Head-to-Head in 2013: Rangers won twice, Capitals won once in a shootout
A stat: This is the third straight year they’re going to meet in playoffs, and the Caps are sporting their third new coach.
Goal differentials: Washington: +19, New York: +18
Shots-per-game: Washington: 28.1 (20th), New York: 30.9 (7th)
Shots-against-per-game: Washington: 32.3 (28th), New York: 28.2 (11th)
NYR: Henrik Lundqvist: .926 save percentage, 2.05 goals-against average
WSH: Braden Holtby: .920 save percentage, 2.58 goals-against average
NYR: Derek Stepan, 44 points in 48 games
WSH: Alex Ovechkin, 56 points in 48 games
Reason to watch: Couldn’t you see either of these teams eventually being in the Cup final? The Capitals got crazy hot down the stretch, putting together a huge winning streak, and the Rangers underachieved all year, but given the fresh start of the “new season” that is playoffs, you could see them pulling it together. One of these two teams is going to suddenly seem like a legit threat in a week or two.
Lately: Washington: 8-1-1, New York: 7-3-0
NYR: 15.7% (23rd)
WSH: 26.8% (1st)
NYR: 81.1% (15th)
WSH: 77.9% (27th)
Special teams evaluation: Powerplay goals a’comin’.
Injuries (via NHL.com): Ryane Clowe (undisclosed) and Brian Boyle (knee) are doubtful. …
Joel Ward (knee) is questionable (he’s in) for the Capitals and Brooks Laich (sports hernia) is out.
First game: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST
Flippant barstool opinion: Washington’s the sexy pick, but I could see the Rangers getting by Washington and getting on a roll.
Holtby had a good run in playoffs last year, and is very likely a quite good NHL goaltender, but Henrik Lundqvist is That Dude. Ovy has been on a tear, but he’s scoring so often from the same place on the powerplay, I find it hard to believe he’s all that tough to game plan for (as in, I think he’s somewhere between his recent hot streak and his early season slump). If Ovy isn’t going, do the Caps have enough to beat the Rangers? I’m skeptical.
Prediction: Rangers in seven.
Your NHL.com preview: