The New York Rangers have picked up points in seven of their last ten games, winning six games and starting to pick up their play. Offensive chemistry seems to be coming along, and the players are starting to settle back into one of the best and most demanding defensive systems in hockey. Henrik Lundqvist has been sharp, and the New York Rangers have been climbing the standings.
The Washington Capitals opened the season in the cellar of the Southeast Division, picking up just five points through their first eleven games. A three-game win streak has seen the Caps propel themselves back into contention, though they still hold the bottom spot in their division. Their goaltending has continued to struggle, but their offense has produced a remarkable five goals per game during their winning streak. Can the Washington Capitals possibly keep up that pace against Henrik Lundqvist and the stout New York Rangers defense in a playoffs rematch?
On the road against one of the best defenses of the past few seasons, it seems unlikely that the Caps can keep up their offensive outbursts. What may continue against the New York Rangers is their goaltending issues. Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth have struggled all season, and if not for ten goals in the last two games to overcome poor defensive performances, the Washington Capitals would not be on a three-game winning streak.
Though the offense is improved, the Washington Capitals are not sound enough defensively to beat a defense-first team. Henrik Lundqvist and the defensive corps of the New York Rangers can suffocate the Caps as they did throughout the playoffs last season. The New York Rangers appear to have turned a corner, and, given the new goaltending issues for the Washington Capitals and the increased offensive firepower of the New York Rangers, the edge has to go to New York on home ice.
Rangers 3 – Capitals 2