Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Peepin' Foes Playoff Edition: Washington Capitals

The Rangers made the playoffs by the skin of their collective teeth and somehow ended up securing the six spot, setting up yet another series against the Washington Capitals.

As most everyone has observed, it is the fourth time the teams have met over the last five postseasons. The Rangers lost the first two of those, before squeaking out a seven-game win last season. Historically they are 3-4 in series against the Caps with the name John Druce still haunting my dreams.

When Do We Play:
Game 1: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. at Washington
Game 2: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. at Washington
Game 3: May 6th, 7:30 p.m. at MSG
Game 4: May 8th, 7:30 p.m. at MSG
*Game 5: May 10th, 7:30 p.m. at Washington
*Game 6: May 12th, TBD at MSG
* Game 7: May 13th, TBD at Washington
* - if necessary

Where We Are: In the playoffs, can you believe it? The Rangers didn't exactly back in to the playoff spot but they didn't exactly show they wanted it until the very end. (Note: That is the same exact line I wrote in 2011.)

Where They Are: SouthLeast Division champs ended the season as one of the hottest teams in the league, tearing off 12-1-2 run to close out the asterisked year.

What Happened This Season: The Blueshirts went 2-0-1 against DC: Sunday. Feb 17th the Rangers won 2-1 at MSG, my recap. Sunday March 10th Rangers won 4-1 at the Phone Booth, my recap. And Sunday, March 24th Caps won 3-2 at MSG in a shootout, my recap.

What Happened Past Seasons: I'd rather not rehash John 'F-ing' Druce or the tumultuous Tortorella debacle in his debut season (for my original recaps of that awfulness, just check out April 2009). Last season's seven-game second round series between the teams bordered on torture. The Rangers dominated Game 1, slept through Game 2, played the most boring three OT game ever in Game 3, had a typical letdown in Game 4, got last-second heroics after a mostly morbid Game 5, gave up an early goal on the way to allowing DC to win Game 6 and, finally, finishing off the series in a solid Game 7.

Who To Watch For: Tom Poti ... no, he's out with a bad back. Wojtek Wolski ... no, he still stinks and rarely plays. The main man is Mike Green. Yeah, there is that Ovechkin guy and, sure, Nick Backstrom is a sweet Swede who abuses his fellow countryman Lundqvist with regularity, but Green makes the motor run. After the Caps lost to the Islanders on March 26th, Green racked up 18 points over the next 15 games and (as I mentioned above) Washington went 12-1-2. His defensive deficiencies are outweighed by his offensive prowess: he can pass, he can shoot, he can quarterback a power play and he can do it all at high speed. Basically, Green is a good version of Del Zaster. Also Brooks Laich, if he is deemed healthy enough to play - that guy is annoying to play against. GMGM ridiculously overpaid for Martin Erat at the deadline and Erat has contributed just one goal in nine games since. Doubt he will reward GMGM's faith with a top performance in this series but you never know.

What To Watch For: Aside from the obvious - the Rangers making Braden Holby look like a real goaltender by inflating his numbers with half-hearted shots - the special teams deserve scrutiny. The Rangers take bad penalties and have a terrible power play. The Caps power play is outstanding but their penalty kill is abominable. Something has got to give. Hank will have to make more saves like this, as the bad Ranger blueline is sure to let Ovie get that open every now and again (unless Staal comes back in time).

Also Check Out: The Caps have a big blogosphere - lotsa bored people in politics I guess - but, frankly, I just head to Japer's Rink for all my info. JP is the man. A few other options are Russian Machine Never Breaks, Caps Outsider, Caps Insider, Homer McFanboy, and On Frozen Blog


city said...

thanks for share..

Pete said...

It makes me sad to read your recaps of the kind of effort Sean Avery put in and the way this team and some other beat writers now use his name as a punchline. In hockey, like most things, people have short memories.

Pete said...

That being said...I guess he kind of brought it on himself...eh.