Two old familiar foes square off for a slot in the eastern conference finals, and bragging rights. Never forget the bragging rights. The two teams are pretty similar, both have coaches with a rather pugnacious and bellicose attitude. Both have top forwards who were next to invisible in the first round, both have failed to capture a Stanley Cup in recent years.
The Rangers again draw a team that had their number in the regular season. They will need Henrik Lundqvist to continue the best post season of his career. The will also need Brandon Dubinsky to come out of his season long funk. Having Gaborik stand up and be counted, and Hagelin avoid getting suspended would be really nice too.
The Capitals come off a series win against an injured, depleted, and under-motivated team to go face a team that consistently stifled opponents all season long. They will be facing better goaltending, better defensive depth, harder hitting players, larger forwards and a team desperate for attention. They need to do everything possible to protect Holtby if they want the series to see five games. Key components Semin, Johansson and Wideman will need to be better defensively.
In the regular season the Rangers had a slight edge in total goals, while the Capitals had the edge 5on5. Defensively the Capitals gave up about half a goal more per game over the first 82, the Rangers had the better penalty kill, and the Capitals claimed the better powerplay.