Tomorrow night the Rangers will commence their playoff run with
Game 1 against the Washington Capitals at 7:30.
squeaked into the playoffs on Saturday by beating the New Jersey Devils and
getting help from the Tampa Bay Lightning, who beat the Carolina Hurricanes
6-2. But that’s all in the past
now. The team is focused squarely on Washington, and they’ll
get their first shot against Michal Neuvirth tomorrow night. Neuvirth shared time with Semyon Varlamov and
Braden Holtby during the regular season, but Varlamov missed much of the season
with a string of injuries and Holtby was up and down from the AHL. Neuvirth will get Game 1 against the Rangers,
but he’ll likely have a short leash given Varlamov’s past success against New York, and he knows
it. That could be a big advantage for New York early.
Mike Green is also set to return to the Capitals’ lineup
after sitting out since February with a concussion he suffered from a Derek
Stepan elbow during the last meeting between these two teams. It’s anyone’s guess how Green will perform - he
had a rocky season even when he was healthy - but when Green is going he adds
another dimension to the Capitals’ offense from the blue line.
Those are the big subplots from Washington’s camp, but the Rangers would be
better off ignoring both. The Blueshirts
should be focused on trying to play their game because they’ve had success
doing just that against the Capitals already this year. That means New York must come out with its typical
tenacious forecheck, the Rangers must contain Alex Ovechkin, and they must find
a way to generate some offense to take the pressure off Henrik Lundqvist.
The key to this game may well be special teams. Power plays often make or break teams at this
time of year, and against an obviously more talented team, the Rangers will
have to capitalize on their opportunities and hold Washington off the scoresheet to have a
chance. The Rangers are one for their
last 27 with the extra man, so getting off to a strong start on the pp will be
of particular importance because it will set the tone for the rest of the
Here are the lines the Rangers used during practice today
(per Andrew Gross), although John Tortorella says he won’t disclose any
definite information about his lineup prior to the game:
Vinny Prospal-Artem Anisimov-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Derek Stepan-Ruslan Fedotenko
Wojtek Wolski-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust
Mats Zuccarello/Sean Avery-Erik Christensen-Chris Drury
And the Capitals’ lines (from Tom Gulitti via Andrew Gross):
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Mike Knuble
Marco Sturm-Jason Arnott-Alex Semin
Brooks Laich-Marcus Johansson-Jason Chimera
Matt Hendricks-Boyd Gordon-Matt Bradley
Don’t forget to check out BB+ for our series preview.