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(2) Capitals VS (7) Rangers
Category
Edge
Comments
Offense
This is the first of two no contests in comparing these 2 teams. Washington has a far, far, far superior offense to ours. In fact their top 4 scoring players have an average of nearly 30 points more than the highest scoring Ranger, who by the way, wasn’t even a Ranger for most of this season. Ouch. The Washington Capitals have more firepower in their top line than we have in our entire organization. On the Rangers end, we have substantial balance, with all 6 defenseman capable of getting involved offensively without a hitch. The Capitals have the amazing Mike Green back there though, who probably is better offensively than our entire blueline corps combined.
Defense
Although the Capitals have Mike Green, they really don’t have all that much beyond him. They are incredibly thin back there (though they won’t be once John Carlson moves up, but that’s for another day) with their defenseman being big and strong, but not mobile at all. Tom Poti is the lone other player even remotely capable of jumping up in the play, but all the Rangers need to do is coat their jerseys with a thin layer of peanut butter to nullify him. The Capitals other 5 defenseman averaged about 12 points a piece for the rest of the season (which is remarkable considering how potent their offense is, you would think those stats are probably bloated considering all they have to do is pass the puck up once to AO and let him run wild. The Rangers on the other hand have all 6 defenseman with more points than any of the bottom 5 defenders on the Capitals, and 5 of our 6 defenseman (Staal being the odd man out) have at least 20 points. Which is remarkable for the opposite reason because of how incredibly poor our offense has been for the bulk of this season. Defensively Marc Staal alone is better than all the Capitals defenseman combined. They don’t have a single guy capable of shutting your best players down, and instead rely on the forwards maintaining control of the puck rather than the defense defending the puck. If we can keep the puck in their zone, great things will happen, because they stink defensively.

Goaltending

This probably has all the makings of an incredible showing by Jose Theodore. I say that because he has almost no expectations whatsoever on his shoulders. People just assume hes going to stink up the joint and that Henrik is going to be stellar. With that said, you still have to assume Henrik will outplay Jose, just because he is better, period. With that said, the pressure Lundqvist is going to be under will probably be on a whole other level compared to what pressure Theodore is under. Don’t be surprised if Theodore has better stats after the series than Henrik.
Coaching
Good coaching matchup in this one, but I am going to give the edge to my boy Torts. Love the guy, love his fire, love his style, and I think hes far more adaptive than Boudreau, who seems to be very 1 dimensional (offense, offense and more offense).

This one seems to have a lot of possibilities. And by that I mean it could easily be a sweep for either team, it could easily go 7, or anywhere in between. If Theodore has a meltdown and Lundvist is stellar, Rangers can sweep. If Theodore plays great, then it may not matter what Lundqvist does. If AO and company go ballistic, it may not matter, if the Rangers power play finally starts to score, the goaltending matchup may not matter. Lots of things can happen in this one, but to me, this series will come down to 1 player. Sean Avery. I think he is the X factor here. The Caps do not have an Avery, they have a Brashear, but he’s no Avery. Avery needs to be smart about who he targets. If I am Torts I tell Avery to avoid going after Ovechkin, but instead focus on Semin, Backstrom and Green. I think if the Rangers can get into the heads of the supporting cast of the Capitals, it may be just enough to make the superhero efforts of Ovechkin moot. On the flip side, I think if Avery goes after Ovechkin, he may actually make Ovechkin play better, because that is his modus operendi. The guy plays better when he gets angry, and like Bruce Banner, we don’t like him when he’s angry. Because the Rangers have the edge in goal, and because the Rangers have the ultimate X factor in Sean Avery, I am going with the Rangers winning it in 6.

Pick: Rangers in 6


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