Rangers-Capitals matchups


This is obviously where the Capitals are most dangerous, and most confusing. Alex Ovechkin is coming off what is seen as a bad year (yet he scored 38 goals). He was benched at times in the Boston series. But he loves playing against the Rangers, especially at MSG, and his rivalries against the Rangers’ top three defensemen is legendary. Nick Backstrom missed 40 games with a concussion, yet he had 44 points in 42 games. Alex Semin is mercurial, and often a target of criticism for effort and grit, but was second on the team in scoring. Marcus Johansson is highly skilled. Then there are the grit guys: Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Matt Hendricks and especially  Mike Knuble and Joel Ward, who were scratched at times, and who combined for the winning goal in OT in Game 7 of the first round (incidentally, John Tortorella was an assistant on the Rangers staff that thought it was a good idea to trade Knuble for Rob DiMaio in 2000). The Capitals only had Ovechkin, Backstrom and D-man Mike Green in the same lineup for 12 games during the season, but were 11-1 in those games.
The Rangers, have skill, too, just not as much of it. Brad Richards was very good throughout the Ottawa series. Marian Gaborik was shut down quite a bit. Ryan Callahan’s playing with a bad hand. Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle may not play Game 1, or who knows when? So it will be up to guys like Derek Stepan, who played sensationally in Games 5-6-7, and X-factor speedster rookies Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider, and grind guys like Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko to make a difference.
EDGE: Capitals.


This was the Rangers’ strong suit, especially in Games 6 an 7 vs. Ottawa, but throughout really, as they clamped down on Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Daniel Alfredsson, et al. Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal have all battled the Capitals and Ovechkin for years, and they were great in Game 7. Michael Del Zotto was battle tested, and passed, throughout the series, as did Anton Stralman. Stu Bickel provides toughness in his few shifts. It’s possible Bickel moves up to a wing and Steve Eminger plays if both Boyle and Dubinsky are out.
The Capitals’ D is better than some think — a mixed group that includes offensive Mike Green (who played just 32 games with concussion issues), and Dennis Wideman, John Carlsson, Karl Alzner, Jeff Schultz, Roman Hamrlik and tough John Erskine.
EDGE: Rangers.


On paper, this is a no-brainer, just as the Rangers-Ottawa matchup should have been. But guys rise to the occasion, and Braden Holtby, the third-string Capitals goalie, stepped up in the first round with injuries sidelining Tomas Vokoun and Michael Neuvirth. The Rangers dispatched of Jose Theodore in the ‘09 series, and were beaten by unknown backup Simeon Varlamov. Last year they were wiped out by Neuvirth.
Henrik Lundqvist lost both of those series, even though he was responsible for the 3-1 lead in games in the ‘09 meeting. He’s a better goalie now, with a much better team in front of him, and he is their best player. He has to be their best player over the next two weeks, and as long as they last.
EDGE: Rangers.


The Rangers power play has been awful forever, but it came up with two big games in the last series, including a pair of PPGs in the Game 6 survival in Ottawa. It has to produce something at times during this series. Their penalty kill has been good all year, and was good vs. Ottawa’s strong power play (but did bend, allowing four PPGs). Washington went 3-19 on the power play, but killed 21 of 23 Boston power plays.
EDGE: Even.


John Tortorella got himself suspended during the ‘09 series with Washington. But he has done a masterful job in building this team, which plays playoff hockey all year, and which has arrived a year or two earlier than expected. He’s won a Cup as a coach with Tampa Bay.
Dale Hunter replaced very successful Bruce Boudreau (and became the first person to score a Game 7-winning goal and coach a Game 7 victory). He’s a rookie NHL coach, also a motivator, with no NHL championship experience as a player or coach.
EDGE: Rangers.

My second-round predictions:

Rangers over Capitals in 6.
Flyers over Devils in 6.

Blues over Kings in 7.
Predators over Coyotes in 5.

Here is my game story from the Game 7 clincher, from LoHud.com and The Journal News.

Here is the Rangers’ notebook by Josh Thomson, 26.

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  1. Sorry to re-post this here but Carp posted “new post” while I was finishing this off. I was really hoping to get some feedback and didn’t expect much on an old post. Hope nobody minds!

    So I ran out of the BankAtlantic center following the Panther’s double-OT loss to the dEvils, skipping the handshake line to save time (fully regretting it now), in order to get the DVR’d Ranger game in before sunrise. Anyone else appalled by NBC for the fact that I missed TWO handshake lines last night?! I kept fast-forwarding the recording afterwards hoping they’d come back to the game with commentary or SOMETHING!! NOTHING!! It looked like they were just basically airing random old sports clips. What the hell was that all about?
    I’m blaming this one on Bettman. I always feel like one of only 10 people that thinks Bettman hasn’t been a disaster for this sport. The NBC contract looked lame at first but with the “rebirth” of the VS. Network as NBC Sports it looks like a pretty good move. Then this amateur-hour presentation of the “post-game” (or lack thereof). Seriously? An important professional sports event involving a team from the broadcast capital of the world and you, what…. “post-empt” it?! Who even watches a random sports show at that time of night? Hideous. Flat-out ridiculous and cut-rate.
    My CNBC doesn’t come in at the moment (thanks Crapcast), so does anyone know if the Florida Panthers game was even broadcast last night?

    I always love hearing how hockey is dealt with in other places so I thought I’d throw out a few, quick notes on the Panthers. The organization as a whole, from top to bottom, is getting more and more respectable; Players and coaches as well as executives. But the presentation at the arena is horrendous. There’s an incredibly annoying “carnival barker” during TV timeouts directing trivia contests and random simple “minute to win it”-type physical games and horrible between-period on-ice racing/antics. They barely ever show replays and the ones they do show are horrible; Especially on their crappy screens at center ice. Whenever their own players take a penalty they blatantly make a point of not showing a replay. It’s a good thing that they don’t pay too much attention to other games around the league or I’d have to really go out of my way to not hear how the Ranger game went. LMAO All season I hated the fact that they didn’t have an “out-of-town” scoreboard posted anywhere and only spent a couple of seconds showing other scores between periods. Last night I was actually happy they went about it this way. lol A huge part of the fans are transplanted from elsewhere in the country (mostly the Northeast) and many still have other loyalties. You’d think it wouldn’t take much brains to fix this. They’ve gotta stop catering to kids and families in terms of the Panthers and start turning people on to hockey in general. However, the playoffs brought the size and passion of the fans here to an otherworldly level. Hope some of that carries over to next year. One can dream anyway….

  2. *Make your predictions. … we may have more prizes.*

    Here are the rules. Read them first:
    In the morning post, which goes up around 4 a.m., post your series predictions in the comments on that thread. Use that thread only for your predictions, I won’t scroll through other threads. I will put reminders in any and all new posts prior to gametime tomorrow. The contest closes when “It’s Go Time!” is posted about half an hour before Game 1.

    Here’s how it works: Pick all four series, winner and number of games. Then give me tiebreakers: Score of the clinching game of the Rangers-Capitals series, GWG in the clinching game of the series, number of saves for Henrik Lundqvist, or Martin Biron (or other goalie for the Rangers) in the clinching game of the series.

    The first tiebreaker after the number of correct series winners is determined, will be the number of correct series predicted with the exact number of games. Then we will go with score of Rangers-Capitals clinching game, GWG, and saves. OK? If any problems arise, the decision of the judges (me) will be final. Or I’ll just award the title to Sally!

    (Oh, one more little thing: Don’t even dream about entering more than once. If I don’t recognize a screen name, I will check IP addresses and I will send CCCP over to your house).

  3. your entry should look like this:
    Rangers in 7.
    Flyers in in 7.
    Blues in 7.
    Predators in 7.

    Clincher: Rangers 7, Capitals 6.
    Clinching GWG: Avery.
    Saves: 57.

  4. Anybody else think the Blues/Kings series is going to be incredibly boring? Hopefully the first game won’t be a week-long overtime game. lmao

  5. If Neil kicked Lundquist’s glove at the end of game 6 and the puck went in off the glove, does that count?

  6. I’d love it if the Blues made the final. They were my second favorite team prior to moving to Florida in ’07. I went to school in St. Louis. It would give me a good reason to visit friends. I just think it’s going to be an offensive quagmire. Then again most of the Western Conference is.

  7. Good overview, Carp. I’m really looking forward to this series. The team that ended their playoff run both times they made it last three years. The Rangers is a different team this year, and both teams know it .A win will definitely go a long way for the Rangers, if not this year, then the next one, or one after. Holtby has been good, but can he sustain it? If the Rangers can score a few early on him, a third string mentality may kick in. One thing changed for the Rangers-they may be able to not only grind it, but can beat you with their speed. Kreider seems to be an unexpected find, but remember that the management has been targeting him as a possible playoff addition for some time. In Gordie we trust!

  8. Up until the age of 30, Knuble scored 15 once, never having more than 9 in a season, otherwise.
    It wasn’t until the 02-03 season he scored 30 then 21, 26, 34, 24, 29, 27, 29, 24 and 6 this year.

  9. That’s right, Evrockriser! Payback time! I appreciated your evaluation of games in Florida – I don’t get to many outside MSG and the Pebble.

  10. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    IT seems like everyone has the same East Conf picks (which scares me a little).

    The West seems wide open. For example, I will likely submit the exact opposite picks from Carpy. We will see. That Phx vs Nash series really has my noggin’ spinning.

    Some great goalies left ! Hank, Rinne, Quick, Smith, Eliott, and then there’s just the east (Bryz, Fatso) and the new kid Holtby.

  11. Apology in advance if this was covered earlier. Caught the end and OT of Devil game last night. Chico Resch (good goalie) is as bad as a 7 year old announcing. He does not shut up for 5 seconds, every replay is a different point (henrique scored, zajac scored, parise scored) and he skips around from thought to thought like he has the memory of a goldfish. I do not know how devil fans can listen. People bash Joe M here (not a big fan) but be happy he does rangers and not Chico, the games would be unlistenable.

  12. About the contest Carp. You do know that 1 game will have been played by tomorrow morning.

  13. 7 of the 8 advancing teams had a perfect winning % when leading after 2 periods.
    Coyotes being the exception.

  14. tough weekend ahead for wife and i after father in law funeral with tons of family and freinds coming by. however once 300 pm comes tom the rangers game goes on.

    wow we are in the round of 8. feels good for a change

  15. Hope the Rangers can get a win to make the day a little better, eric.

    Nice shot by Vrbata. I met him in Prague; really nice guy.

  16. I’ve brought this point up before but since I watch most of the Ranger games through Center Ice during the season I’ve seen much more of the Ranger/Devils games through the eyes of Chico Resch. He is by far the worst color guy I’ve ever heard. Any negative quality that could possibly be attributed to a sports broadcaster, he’s shown evidence of in his performances. You never know what you’re going to get from him from one game to the next. Heck, from on whistle to the next.
    You’ve gotta hear ex-Ranger Randy Moller call the Panther games on the radio. He’s the play-by-play guy but you’ve gotta hear audio of him when the Panthers score. It’s priceless. It’s like he won the lottery AND someone stuck a stick up his arse at the exact same time. It’s almost obnoxious sounding. lol

  17. iDoodie machetto: get well Tony on

    Oh wow I didnt even know there would be another contest. I was just predicting. Reentry for tomorrow.

  18. My condolences, Eric. Hopefully the Rangers’ll shoot a smile your way tomorrow!

  19. yeah, I know N.Y. Born, but it was a matter of no contest, or a contest with one game played already … and we all know how crucial Game 1 was in the last round. Not.

  20. eric, I was thinking of you last night. ilb said there was a chance you’d be there, but doubted it. anyway, glad they won for you, and hope your family is hanging in there. there’s more important stuff than hockey games.

  21. getting way ahead of ourselves but should we get to a cup final i want no part of weber and suter so am rooting hard for the yotes

  22. carp

    true def more important things but being there last night for the 3 hours was pure relief from life. once your there the outside world turns off for a few hours.

    i was hiding under my seat late 3rd per.

    i will be at game 2 not tom will come by

  23. Caps are a bigger team and have more talent then ottawa.
    I hope the rangers are healthy. This series should be very intense behind the net and along the boards.

  24. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    Melrose went 5 for 8 and I don’t think he got a single series length right in the first round.
    Now tell me Maggie the tsn monkey predicted the caps and you’ve caught my attention!

  25. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    Has anyone else realized that Hagelin is the new Avery?! The Rangers are 3-0 when he’s around for all 60 minutes, 1-3 when he’s not. I say that tongue in cheek, of course, but it is interesting stat.

  26. Latona, I was just thinking the same exact thing aboot Joe Mich. I agree. I think it’s cause he’s having too much fun with Sam, he forgets he’s working.

    Doodie, will you ever pick NYR to win a series, or a game, when there’s a contest?

  27. It’d be cool if we get to the finals if Sam calls the game for NBC alongside the main playbyplay guy of the opposing team. NBC of course would never do that since we all know Doc is going to call the Finals.

  28. If the Rangers and Blues make the finals, how awesome would it be if Sam and JD got together to call the games?

  29. I want the Rangers so bad but my head tells me it’s Nashville this yr. Hope I’m wrong

  30. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    In complete games prior to game 6, 2-0. Game 2 he was kicked out early, no? That doesn’t count. So wins in games 4 and 5, but then the Hagelin theory prevailed (again) games 6 and 7. I would say Hagelin is still Avery, with irrefutable certainty.

  31. Rangers are BANGED up. Would not be surprised if Cally is playing with a broken finger. Also- when are hags and kreider gonna run out of gas? Richards and Gabby gotta step it up big time if they want to continue. Dubi — albeit offensively useless more often than not — is good for that grit and defense; Boyle, same thing, especially now that he sees he can produce when he’s center. I don’t know. Gonna be interesting..

  32. LMFAO at Joe M making mistakes about penalties during the game…the teams change but the broadcasting doesnt

  33. So, in answer to my above question,and thanks, Roszival is playing. I will therefore guarantee that Phoenix is not the last team standing. Rosie has improved but he is not a cup defenseman. Similarly, Mike Motteau, Boston’s wonderful d-man is not a cup defenseman. If you need to fill your roster with that, you either have a lot of injuries or are simply weak. Either way, you ain’t winning’ the cup.

  34. I probably shouldn’t even enter this contest. I only got 4 of 8 series right, and none of the games right. Even in the series I predicted the wrong team, I didn’t get the number of games right. I might as well be Barry Melrose.

  35. Im watching NESN coverage of Bruins break up day. And this turd loser Andy Brickley says that the Bruins have 3 legitimate NHL goalies, calling some guy named Whodobin (sp???). HELLO!!! Has they guy ever even played in the NHL?

  36. I retract my earlier statement about Joe, ORR. And to think, just when he was doing so well!

  37. Eddie eddie Eddie on

    Carp – you know if Avery were recalled in time to play in these playoffs, he would score the series clinching goal. And I know you know I feel the same…

  38. Eddie eddie Eddie on

    Joe Thornton thinks the blues were a soft team. What passes for a non soft team? Surely not the shrimps errrrr sharks….

  39. Eddie eddie Eddie on

    Evrock – there once was a time when if you weren’t at the garden, the only alternative was 1130 wnew AM with Marc Albert and Sal Messina. On the road, WOR and Jim Gordon and the big whistle…. This is the first time, cable tv us covering every game and it has been great. Of course things could always be better..

    But anyway, I liked your rant.

  40. I see Doodie bet against the Rangers once again. Last round and now this round. I am not saying you can’t bet against the Rangers but I find it very sad that people still don’t believe in this team.

  41. Hey Eddie, I remember those days too. I didn’t get to a whole lot of games when I was a kid so that’s where I tuned in. Good old channel 9! lol With new times comes new technology and new rants. lol
    Can’t believe the finish of that Phx/Nsh game. That overtime was alllllllllll Nashville but at the end the only thing that counts is that puck in the back of the net. Way to go Phoenix for hanging in there and pulling that one out. Now just imagine how much easier it’d be if we could win a bit more in the faceoff circle……

  42. CCCP, its just Doodie trying as usual to be smarter than everyone else. So if the Rangers lose in 6, he can say “I told u so!.” Remember though, Nick Foligno = Rangers killer! With his 4 career goals in 24 games against the Rangers.

  43. Rangers in 4.
    Flyers in in 5.
    Blues in 6.
    Coyotes in 5.

    Clincher: Rangers 3, Capitals 0.
    Clinching GWG: McDonagh.
    Saves: 27.

  44. ORR!! What Is It Good For?!?! on

    Flyers in 7
    Kings in 5
    Coyotes in 6
    Rangers in 7

    Rangers 2, Craps 1
    GWG: Gaborik
    Saves: 28

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