Playoff Team Stats
|G/PG||2.20 (12th)||2.29 (10th)|
|GA/PG||1.60 (1st)||2.14 (4th)|
|PP%||15.0% (13th)||15.4% (t-10th)|
|PK%||84.6% (t-5th)||100.0% (1st)|
Playoff Point Leaders
|Derick Brassard||3G / 1A = 4 Points||Nicklas Backstrom||3G / 3A = 6 Points|
|Ryan McDonagh||1G / 3A = 4 Points||Alex Ovechkin||2G / 3A = 5 Points|
|Rick Nash||1G / 3A = 4 Points||Evgeny Kuznetsov||3G / 1A = 4 Points|
Playoff Goalie Stats
|Henrik Lundqvist||4W / 1.53 GAA / .939 SV%||Braden Holtby||3W / 1.63 GAA / .943 SV%|
|Philipp Grubauer||1W / 3.00 GAA / .857 SV%|
It seems like the Rangers and Capitals play in the playoffs every year doesn’t it?
To be exact, this will be the fifth postseason meeting between the two teams since 2009. Of the previous four series, three of them have went seven games. The Capitals won in seven in 2009 and in five in 2011. However, the Rangers have won the last two series, both in Game 7, first in 2012 then again in 2013.
As it is in every playoff series, the goaltending will be the key to the series. Both net minders were outstanding in the first round. Henrik Lundqvist posted the second best GAA (1.52) and the third best SV% (.939). For Braden Holtby, he was second in SV% (.943) and third in GAA (1.63). So at first glance it looks like goals will be at a premium in this series.
The regular season series was won by the Rangers 3-1. Lundqvist was 2-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .929 SV% in his two starts against Washington. Holtby was 1-3-0 with a 3.06 GAA and .897 SV% in the four games vs. New York.
Whenever Lundqvist is in a playoff series, his team usually has the edge in goaltending, but Holtby is looking to keep his career-year going.
The Rangers did not need to do a ton of scoring in the first round, because Lundqvist was so good. Derick Brassard led the way with three goals and one assist, while Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash had four points of their own (1G / 3A each). Nash has typically had a tough time in the postseason, but in the first round he was able to carry his regular season success into the playoffs. He will need to continue that rather than fall flat on his face like he has in the past, if the Rangers want to produce offensively.
New York will be without Mats Zuccarello for the foreseeable future, which will move Martin St. Louis to the top line. St. Louis only had one assist vs. the Penguins, but he has 84 career playoff points in 93 games, so don’t expect him to be as quiet in this series.
For the Capitals, their offence begins with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. The two combined for 11 points (5G / 6A) vs. the Islanders and they were followed by eight players who had at least three points. Evgeny Kuznetsov had an excellent series, scoring three goals, including the game-winner in Game 7.
Ovi had five goals in four games against the Rangers in the regular season. Like I said already, goals will likely be at a premium in this series and there is no player more important in this series than Ovechkin.
The aforementioned McDonagh is tied for the team lead in points through one round and he led the Rangers with 17 points (4G / 13A) in the 2014 playoffs. He has proven to be a great playoff performer for New York. This year, Dan Girardi, Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle all had at least two points and if their scoring continues to be this consistent, they will be tough to stop.
John Carlson is the Capitals best defenseman and he led them with four points (1G / 3A) in round 1. Their blue line is just as strong with names like Matt Niskanen and Mike Green.
When you look at this matchup on paper, it really is difficult to say one team is clearly better than the other.
Series Prediction: Capitals win in 7.
Leading Scorer: Alex Ovechkin
Series X-Factor: Rick Nash