Opinion: Rangers Should Make Quick Work of the Capitals

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

When it comes to the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals taking on each other in the Stanley Cup playoffs, their bouts seem to go the distance.

In 2009 (Capitals won), 2012 (Rangers won), 2013 (Rangers won), and 2015 (Rangers won), the series between the Blueshirts and Capitals went the distance. They were all hard fought games and all very exciting, which set up for some memorable game seven victories.

With the two clubs set to meet in this year’s postseason, one should not expect this series to go long. While anything can happen in the playoffs, the Rangers should dispose of the Capitals quickly.

For starters, the Rangers outclassed the Capitals in every category this season. Wins (55 to 40 in favor of the Rangers), points (114 to 91 in favor of the Rangers), goals for (278 to 216), goals against (226 to 252 in favor of the Rangers), power play percentage (26.2 to 20.6 in favor of the Rangers), and penalty killing percentage (84.5 to 79 in favor of the Rangers).

As one can see, the Blueshirts dominated the Capitals in several crucial categories in the regular season. Again, anything can happen in the playoffs, but the areas mentioned above might be too much for the Capitals to overcome when it matters the most.

Secondly, the Rangers have a lot more depth than the Capitals do. The Blueshirts had four players with at least 72 points, while their best player, Artemi Panarin, had a whopping 120 points on 49 goals and 71 assists.

Besides Panarin, the Blueshirts have guys like Vincent Trocheck (25 goals and 52 assists for 77 points), Chris Kreider (39 goals and 36 assists for 75 points), defenseman Adam Fox (17 goals and 56 assists for 73 points), and Mika Zibanejad (26 goals and 46 assists for 72 points). The Rangers also have youngster Alexis Lafreniere, who took a huge step this season in picking up 57 points on 28 goals and 29 assists.

At the other end, the Capitals will struggle to match what the Rangers have offensively. Yes, they still have Alex Ovechkin (31 goals and 34 assists for 65 points), but this is not the same Ovechkin that would scorch the league year in and year out.

Other than Ovechkin, the Capitals really only have solid offensive contributors in leading Capitals’ scorer Dylan Strome (27 goals and 40 assists for 67 points) and defenseman John Carlson (10 goals and 42 assists for 52 points). Other than those players, the Capitals do not have other guys that can contribute offensively on a consistent basis.

Lastly, the Rangers have much better goaltending than the Capitals do. In Igor Shesterkin, the Blueshirts have an All-Star who had another solid season (36-17-0-2 with a 2.58 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage, and four shutouts) and is someone who has had success in the playoffs as he is currently 13-14 with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.

If Shesterkin should falter, the team also has backup in Jonathan Quick, who had a great year as he went 18-6-0-2 with a 2.62 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage, and two shutouts. He has also won three Cups, two of which were as a starting goaltender with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014 (also won a Cup with the Golden Knights last season).

Right now, the Capitals have one hot goaltender in Charlie Lindgren, who also happens to be Rangers’ defenseman Ryan Lindgren’s brother. Charlie put the Capitals on his back this season and gave them consistent goaltending as he finished the year at 25-16-0-7 with a 2.67 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage, and six shutouts.

The team’s backup, Darcy Kuemper, struggled this season. He was 13-14-0-3 with a 3.31 goals-against average, .890 save percentage, and one shutout.

If Lindgren struggles, can the Capitals rely on Kuemper to win them a series? Yes, Kuemper won the Cup with the Avalanche in 2022, but he had a much better team in front of him than he currently does with the Capitals.

When you put all of these things together, you have a series that the Rangers should win easily. Anything can happen come playoff time, but with the way the Rangers played the whole year, they should come out on top and advance to the second round without any trouble.

ECF Game 1 Recap : Flukes & Lacking Production Ranting Rangers: A New York Rangers Podcast

In this playoff episode we recap the Rangers loss in Game 1 of the ECF.For more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. ECF Game 1 Recap : Flukes & Lacking Production
  2. Guest Colin Stephenson : ECF Preview
  3. Cry-der
  4. 7-1 Stay Cuylle, We're Fine
  5. 2-0 Series Lead!!! : Trocheck 2OT Hero

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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