SUNRISE, Fla. – Cue Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” – the Capitals learned Saturday night they’ll face the Rangers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Hurricanes lost to the Lightning.
Here are some quick thoughts from BankAtlantic Center about the Caps’ opponent that won 1,200 miles away earlier in the day to punch their ticket and set up this series:
Long live the King
When the Rangers take the ice at Verizon Center Wednesday or Thursday (likely Wednesday), Henrik Lundqvist will be starting his 27th straight game. That’s due in part to Martin Biron’s season-ending injury and a lack of a reliable backup. (For the record, it’s Chad Johnson).
Lundqvist is 11-6-2 all-time in the regular season against the Caps and poses a problem because of his ability to steal games and stop just about any shot he can see. Getting screens and traffic is important against any elite goalie but especially Lundqvist.
“When he’s hot he’s tremendous in nets,” Caps forward Matt Bradley said. “But we have a lot of guys up front that can score and our defense. I think if we play our game the proper way we’ll get our goals.”
Even with their 5-2 win over the Devils to get into the playoffs, the Rangers aren’t exactly sizzling. They’re 4-3-1 in their past eight, including a 6-2 loss to the Islanders.
The Caps, on the other hand, are 5-2-1 in the same amount of games, including Saturday night’s game that meant nothing.
Welcome back, captain
The Rangers won’t have Ryan Callahan (fractured leg), but they do have captain Chris Drury back to help a typically listless offense. Drury did his best Willis Reed impersonation Saturday by playing his first game since Feb. 3 after knee surgery, skating just 7:48 but scoring his first goal of the season.
Drury could be more important as a locker room presence for the Rangers than an on-ice presence, but his return is still noteworthy and something for the Caps to pay attention to.