Thursday, May 2, 2013

NHL Playoffs Preview: Rangers/Caps; Sens/Canadiens

Two more series gets under way Thursday night as teams continue
fighting for the Stanley Cup.
The battle for the Stanley Cup continues as the New York Rangers start their series against the Washington Capitals, and the Ottawa Senators head to Montreal to face the Canadiens.  These are the last two series to start in the quest for 16 wins.

(E6) New York Rangers vs. (E3) Washington Capitals
Game 1 - Tonight, 7:30PM - TV: NBC Sports Network; MSG
Season Series: NYR: 2-0-1; WSH: 0-2-1

The Rangers scored once in the 2nd and again in the 3rd as they beat the Capitals in their first meeting this season 2-1.  Carl Hagelin's 6th tied the game, and Derek Stepan scored 4:25 in the 3rd to give the Rangers the victory.

In the second meeting, Steve Olesky's 1st career goal gave the Capitals the early lead, but the Rangers would answer back with four.  Derek Stepan tied the game with his deflection, Brian Boyle put the Rangers ahead with his goal on the delayed penalty, and Ryan Callahan scored on the ensuing power play.  Brad Richards would score with less than two minutes to play to give the Rangers the 4-1 victory.

In the final meeting, at MSG, the Capitals connected for an early two goal lead, and like their other two games, the Rangers came storming back, tying it on Derek Stepan's 9th goal on the Power Play.  The 2-2 tie would continue through the 1st and 2nd intermissions, and both teams would fail to score in the 3rd Period or overtime.  In the shootout, the Capitals were able to win it in the 4th round on Nicklas Backstrom's goal.

The Capitals come from the weak Southeast Division, but comes with firepower.  Not much of an impact in the first two games against the Rangers, Alex Ovechkin scored the 2nd of the Capitals goals in the 3rd game, plus netting a shootout goal.  He has warmed up over the course of the season and should be considered a dangerous threat anytime he's on the ice.  That's not to say that the Rangers don't have threats of their own, namely Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan, but that the Rangers need to tend extra care when he possesses the puck.

This is easily one of those series that could go all 7 games, and that's something the National Broadcasting Company would love, especially in the heart of sweeps.

OUR PREDICTION: New York Rangers wins the series, 4-3.

(E7) Ottawa Senators vs. (E2) Montreal Canadiens
Game 1 - Tonight, 7:00PM - TV: CNBC
Season Series: OTT: 2-1-1; MTL: 2-1-1

The first meeting of these two teams featured some near-misses, a couple of waved-off goals, and intensity that followed these two teams whenever they met up in the future.  Daniel Alfredsson netted his first of the season to break the 1-1 deadlock in the 2nd Period, and the Senators kept rolling in the goals behind some impressive saves from Craig Anderson as the Sens won 5-1.

The second meeting saw all its scoring early.  Jakob Silfverberg came off the bench and went in unguarded to give the Senators the early 1-0 lead over a minute into the game.  But the Canadiens got it back a minute later, and then Erik Cole's goal later in the 1st Period put Montreal up for good, 2-1.

That was the last game to be settled within 60 minutes.  In the 3rd game, Dave Dziurzynski, who has been known to score a few goals against the Adirondack Phantoms as a former Binghamton Senator, put Ottawa on the board first, in his 2nd of 2 goals he would score this season.  Andrei Markov would tie it for the Canadiens in the closing seconds of the 2nd Period.

After a scoreless 3rd Period and overtime, the Sens would win the shootout, 2-1.

The final meeting between these Canadian rivals went to another shootout, but not before Ottawa was able to come back from a 3-1 deficit.  Daniel Alfredsson scored with 1.5 seconds left in the 2nd Period on the Power Play in a goal that needed to be verified first, and Patrick Wiercioch tied the game in the 3rd with his 3rd goal of the season.

But the Canadiens earned the extra point, winning the shootout 2-1.

This is another series that could easily go 7 games.  Special Team play could make the difference between who moves onto the 2nd round and who returns home.  But like how the National Broadcasting Company would love a 7-game series between the Rangers and the Capitals, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation would love the same here.

OUR PREDICTION: Montreal wins the series, 4-3.

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