Rangers vs. Capitals playoff preview

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Blueshirt Banter vs. Japers' Rink

The first of my playoff previews focuses one of many high-profile matches in the opening round, with the #2 seed Washington Capitals hosting the #7 New York Rangers.

The Storylines

Oh, look! It's Sean Avery! What wacky pranks will he come up with next? The question that interests me here is whether Washington tolerates Avery's calculated taunts, or if they choose to swat this pest early.

On the Washington side, Alex Ovechkin has captured trophies and filled up countless highlight reels with his regular season exploits, but true NHL legends are made in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. How will he fare in his second playoff run?

The Numbers

New York Washington
 Record 43-30-9 12th 50-24-8 5th
 Pts % .579 12th .659 4th
 Goals For/Game 2.44 27th 3.27 3rd
 Goals Against/Game 2.58 6th 2.93 19th
 5-on-5 GF/GA 0.90 23rd 1.10 8th
 PP% 13.9 28th 25.2 2nd
 PK% 87.8 1st 80.6 17th
 Shots/Game 32.4 7th 33.5 2nd
 Shots Against/Game 29.7 15th 29.5 12th
 FO % 50.8 15th 51.7 7th

This deck is stacked pretty heavily in Washington's favor. Take, for instance, those power play numbers. While it looks like #2 vs. #28 is already a big advantage for Washington, that 13.9% PP for the Rangers doesn't even count the 13 shorthanded goals they gave up, a league high. Yes, the Caps gave up 10 shorties too, but at least they scored twice as often on the PP to make up for that.

Goaltending

New York


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Henrik Lundqvist 70 4153 38 25 7 3 168 2.43 2007 1839 .916 3

Washington


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Jose Theodore 57 3287 32 17 5 4 157 2.87 1572 1415 .900 2

Lundqvist is a star performer, but he'll have to absolutely steal games for the Rangers to have a chance.

Penalties

No OtF preview would be complete without a look at Penalty Plus/Minus, to see which players will head to, or send other players to, the box:

 New York Penalties Drawn Washington Penalties Drawn
Player Draws Fouls Pen +/- Player Draws Fouls Pen +/-
Brandon Dubinsky 45 38 +7 Alex Ovechkin 42 35 +7
Sean Avery 41 33 +8 Brooks Laich 33 14 +19
Scott Gomez 34 30 +4 Alex Semin 30 32 -2
Ryan Callahan 34 18 +16 Donald Brashear 26 33 -7
Colton Orr 32 43 -11 Mike Green 25 34 -9
Aaron Voros 31 36 -5 Matt Bradley 23 16 +7
Penalties Taken Penalties Taken
Colton Orr 32 43 -11 Alex Ovechkin 42 35 +7
Brandon Dubinsky 45 38 +7 Mike Green 25 34 -9
Aaron Voros 31 36 -5 Milan Jurcina 7 34 -27
Sean Avery 41 33 +8 Donald Brashear 26 33 -7
Paul Mara 20 33 -13 Alex Semin 30 32 -2
Scott Gomez 34 30 +4 Shaone Morrison 18 31 -13

As mentioned above, a key player here is Avery; if he can goad the Caps into some bad penalties, it provides a chance for the Rangers to get an early lead and then hang on.

The Prediction

I have to take the Washington Capitals in a cake walk here. As much as I like John Tortorella as a coach, I just don't think he has the horses to keep up with the Caps in this one.

NHL Playoffs Blog Coverage, Schedule and Scores - SB Nation

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