Caps and Rangers tonight. Really looking forward to this series. After a miserable start, the Caps finished the season on a tremendous tear and it was led by Ovi who had himself a tremendous season. It’s interesting because there does seem to be more of a maturity and determination and business like attitude with this season than previous seasons. Makes sense as the “Young Guns” are no longer that young. I really like this team and have some bigger expectations for them. I have said for several weeks now that this may not be the most talented team the Caps have had but it may be the best one they have had. It really feels like the players have bought into Oates’ system and are really playing for each other.
Not sure how I feel about drawing the Rangers. Frankly, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with anyone as all the teams are pretty tough. The interesting thing about the Rangers is obviously we are familiar with them in the playoffs as we have faced them 4 out of the last 5 years. They were the ones that eliminated us last season so there is a lot of history there. The key to this series is to be able to win 5 v 5. We are outstanding on the PP but they have taken the fewest number of penalties this year so we can’t count on winning on the PP. Also, they are very good on defense and blocking shots. We are going to have to be physical and grind out some difficult and ugly goals. It will definitely be doing the little things that will get us goals. The good news for our offensive guys is that the Rangers should be without Staal and Girardi who are two guys that are typically matched up on Ovi. Hopefully this will make things a bit easier for our offensive guys.
On the other side, NY finished their season scoring a lot more than they did at the beginning of the year. They couldn’t buy goals at the start of the season but Nash has really come alive and Brad Richards is finally starting to play the way he was expected when the Rangers traded for him. Throw in solid production from Stepan and Callahan and they suddenly have two quality scoring lines that we need to defend. I do like our defensive pairings and am glad Schultz and Poti are out. The concern with our defensemen particularly Green and Carlson is if they make their offensive runs and lose the puck. It can lead to odd man rushes. It’s high risk/high reward but they really need to be careful when they decide to creep up.
In the end, I expect a tough series with goals tough to come by and strong, physical play. Mistakes will be the difference. I like the Caps in this series to win in 6.
UNLEASH THE FURY!!!