May 12th, 2012. The Rangers eliminate the Caps to go to the Eastern Conference Final.

May 12th, 2012. The Rangers eliminate the Caps to go to the Eastern Conference Final.

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.

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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)

Goalies:

NYR: Henrik Lundqvist: .926 save percentage, 2.05 goals-against average
WSH: Braden Holtby: .920 save percentage, 2.58 goals-against average

Top scorers: 

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

Powerplay:

NYR: 15.7% (23rd)
WSH: 26.8% (1st)

Penalty kill:

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.

Closing thought: 

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:

Comments (13)

  1. I think you mean Brian Boyle, not Clowe’s former teammate and current Shark, Dan Boyle. Otherwise, nice read.

  2. *Brian* Boyle not Dan

  3. I do not play for either of these teams, but as a player who is partial to the defensive side of the game, you may want to mention that Mark Staal guy’s injury situation as he has been pretty good at shutting down Ovie in the past.

  4. I think it’s all going to depend on even strength. The Rangers don’t give up too many power plays, but their power play has been poor all year.

  5. …okay, apropos to nothing, I keep wondering– why do you use Ovy instead of Ovi or Ovie? Personal preference? Habit? Trying to give “y” more credence as a sometimes vowel?

    It’s like calling Crosby Syd instead of Sid. WEIRD.

  6. He will be easy to prepare for – shut him down on the PP and make it a 4 on 3. Don’t allow him the middle of the ice, or to gain speed in the neutral zone. Ovechkin will become frustrated and will fall apart, and the rest of the Caps will follow suit.

    He’s never been more vital to the Caps success than he is now, and he’s never been more easy to shut down than he is now/

    • Rddle me this Grant “The Masster Tactian” Clitsome. If Ovy is so easy to shut down why did he just win the Rocket? Are you the only guy in the universe who knows how to shut him down? Becasue in the last month no one has been able to do it. You say you would make it a 4 on 3 by taking him out of the play completely. Do you really want to give a 4 on 3 to Nic Backstrom, Mike Ribeiro, Mike Green and Troy Brouwer (or whoever the 4th guy would be maybe Marty Erat?)? That seems to me like at least 3 guys out there still that can really shhhnipe it and one guy running the net front screen. There is a reason why the Caps powerplay is dynamite and its not just Ovy.

      • He just won the Rocket because the coach’s mandate is to have his linemates feed OV the easy backdoor passes and one-timers, regardless of their own scoring chances. Anyone can stand on the dot and let ‘er rip. When OV’s scoring he’s not pouting, is he?

        How is OV’s defensive play? Oh right, it’s a joke.

        Wait ’till the Rangers start blocking his shots, and take away his time and space. “WHY NO SHOT GO THROUGH?” “OV MAD!”

        • Grade A trolling, bro.

          >He just won the Rocket because the coach’s mandate is to have his linemates feed OV the easy backdoor passes and one-timers, regardless of their own scoring chances. Anyone can stand on the dot and let ‘er rip.

          Nope. His linemates feed Ovi because he has one of the nastiest wristers in the league and can put it behind the goalie a lot of the time– even when everyone knows it’s coming. Predictable? Yes. But also very, very effective, so I don’t know why you complain about him making that goal if he’s, you know, making the goal. And when he does get covered, the Caps benefit from being able to switch to Green’s slap shot on point, or Brouwer crashing in the slot, or Backsrom or Ribeiro setting up. A powerplay works when it has a lot of options, and the Caps powerplay works because it has an excellent option in Ovechkin, and at least two other excellent options in Backstrom and Green. Which you seem to acknowledge in your other comment, so I don’t see your logic. You can’t say Ovechkin isn’t a great option on the powerplay when he, you know, lead the powerplay goal count.

          >When OV’s scoring he’s not pouting, is he?

          Nope. He dutifully adapts and spouts the company line, even with coaches who were running systems that weren’t a great fit for him. And when he began scoring again, with a coach who worked hard to help improve him, he gave due credit and appreciation to that coach, and his teammates.

          >How is OV’s defensive play? Oh right, it’s a joke.

          Nope. I wouldn’t say that at all. He’s not going to be a Selke candidate any time soon, but he’s greatly improved– he backchecks and blocks with much better instinct and regularity than before. Look at the way he expertly played the body to prevent a SH chance with Peverly in the last game of the season. And Oates puts him out at the end of the game, unlike Hunter– he worked with Ovechkin to improve him, told Ovi he trusted him with it, and Ovi responded.

          Soooo basically to everything you said: NOPE. But try again next time, dude.

          • Thanks Ash. For a while there I thought i was taking crazy pills.
            I thought only Mike Milbury would say Ovy is a scrub but apparently Grant Fuhr thinks so too.

      • “There is a reason why the Caps powerplay is dynamite and its not just Ovy.”

        Absolutely. Those players you mentioned are all better than OV. Don’t forget Mike Green (also better than OV).

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