The Eastern Conference 1st-round of the NHL Playoffs offers me the opportunity to provide a quick-and-dirty review, preview, and prediction. While a painfully long NHL regular season rolls into a painfully long NHL post-season, make no mistake about one thing – I’m a huge fan of all things hockey. I can make it through a lot of hockey en route to the NHL Playoffs and then I’m hard pressed to miss a whole lot of it.
The Eastern Conference
#1 Seed Washington Capitals hosting the #8 Seed New York Rangers
The New York Rangers have enough fire power to hang with the Washington Capitals. Don’t let the difference in seeding fool anyone here. In terms of statistical comparisons, call it a draw. The Rangers scored more goals during the regular season and the difference between them in goals against was exactly one. Defense and goaltending rule the playoffs and these two teams have a near identical showing in each category. Throw the seeds out the window in this contest because they simply confuse the issue. These two teams are about as evenly matched as they get and a Rangers win would be the furthest thing from an “upset” as I will have witnessed in recent years.
Hot Spots: For the Rangers it has to be the 11-shutout goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist. For the Capitals, it’s no surprise that it’s Alex Ovechkin that led the Caps to a sizzling close to the regular season as the Flyers fell back to the field.
I don’t see the Capitals choking two seasons in a row and pick them to win this series.