Now that the Pittsburgh Penguins are out of the way, the New York Rangers turn their attention to the Washington Capitals.
By Robby Sabo
As we all watched the New York Islanders die a slow death Monday night in Game 7 of their first-round matchup against the Washington Capitals, many thoughts and emotions swirled through our head.
That, is, if you’re a fan of the New York Rangers.
First of all, the question of who was the better matchup for your beloved Blueshirts came to mind.
While the Capitals would present a far less charge of emotions, they are, without question, the more physical and tougher team. Their blue-line is covered with giants. From Brooks Orpik to John Carlson, they have the much bigger team than the Isles.
The Isles, on the other hand, would bring an intense amount of emotions to the table. Considering the whole “Rock the Barn” promotion, coupled with the fact that 2015 marks the last year for the Nassau Coliseum, there’s no question a Rangers-Islanders second round matchup would have been nutty.
So, despite the general public of Rangers fans not knowing who they’d rather face, the Isles and Caps decided that for us, as the Caps took Game 7 on Monday night by the final of 2-1.
Now, the Rangers need to turn their attention to the team who’ll they’ll wynd up facing in the playoffs for the fifth-time in the last seven seasons.
In 2009 and 2011, the John Tortorella led Rangers lost to the Capitals in each first-series round.
2009 marked the season Tortorella was hired in February, relieving Tom Renney, and the Rangers surged to a late-season playoff berth. Although they were outmatched, they hung with Washington in seven-games.
2011, yet again, the Caps enjoyed home ice advantage. The “squirt bottle” incident was the main attraction because the Rangers fell in a meager five games to the Caps.
2012 finally marked a series featuring the two teams in which the Rangers enjoyed home ice. In fact, they came into the Eastern Conference playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Facing the Caps in the second-round, the series yet again went seven. This time, however, New York escaped with the victory. This led to the disappointing Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Devils the following round.
The only thing more shocking than Callahan being traded a season ago, is the fact that these two squads didn’t face each other last spring.
Most believe the Isles would have presented a higher-emotion series, but as we’ve witnessed time and again in recent memory, the Caps are no joke. They are a tried and tested team with a leader who is searching for that Stanley Cup.
Ovechkin is after the same thing Henrik Lundqvist is – that championship. Both star players who have yet to taste the sweet riches players of that ilk should experience.
The theme surrounding this series should echo the same sentiment the Rangers are familiar with: the physical, tough team will attempt to knock off the fast, free-flowing Rangers off their feet.
Most believe the Rangers disposed of the Penguins in five-games despite not playing their A-Game. While that may be true, the fact that this is playoff hockey, and teams will get away with so much more garbage, must be taken into account as well.
The scene from that Capitals-Islanders Game 7 was something out of the movie Slapshot. Guys were getting boarded, interfered with and chopped at. This has to be a concerning thought for Rangers fans out there.
Now, the Rangers real test in the playoffs will begin. They’ll need to dig deep into their “tough-hockey” bag of tricks if they want to advance.
- Game 1 @NYR, Thursday, April 30th, 7:30 pm ET
- Game 2 @NYR, Saturday, May 2nd, 12:30 pm ET
- Game 3 @WAS, Monday, May 4th, 7:30 pm ET
- Game 4 @WAS, Wednesday, May 6th, 7:30 pm ET
- Game 5 @NYR, Friday, May 8th, 7:00 pm ET (If Necessary)
- Game 6 @WAS, Sunday, May 10th, TBD (If Necessary)
- Game 7 @NYR, Tuesday, May 12th, TBD (If Necessary)