(3) CAPITALS vs. RANGERS (6) - ECQF
Familiar FoesBy Corey Masisak and Dave Lozo
For the third straight year, the Capitals and Rangers meet in the postseason. NHL.com provides a complete head-to-head breakdown.
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That's the Rangers' rallying cry, right? It should be. There's reason to believe in it. It actually makes a lot of sense.
The Rangers battled their own inconsistent play all season, much in the same way the Kings did last season. Both were considered locks for the Stanley Cup Playoffs before the season started but didn't clinch until the regular season was down to few days remaining.
The Kings made it as the eighth seed in the Western Conference with 95 points in 82 games; the Rangers got in this season with 56 points in 48 games, qualifying as one of the final three teams in the East during the week's final season. The points-per-game average between the teams was almost identical, as well.
Wait, there's more.
The Kings had (and still have) high-end talent in their top-six, enough grinders who could be offensive threats in their bottom-six, a fairly stout defense, and an all-world goalie.
Ditto for the Rangers this season, especially in goal with Henrik Lundqvist.
The Kings were hot going into the playoffs last season, 9-2-3 with 41 goals scored over their last 14 games of the regular season. The Rangers are hot going into the playoffs this season having gone 10-3-1 with 51 goals in their last 14 games.
The comparisons stop there because what the Kings did in the playoffs last season, when they took a 3-0 lead in all four rounds and went 16-4 overall to win the Stanley Cup, isn't likely to be matched any time soon. The Rangers can't be expected to do that, but they don't have to try to be the Kings because they're good enough to win the Stanley Cup by being themselves.
They're experienced. They grind. They defend well. They trust their goalie. They have the potential to excel on the penalty kill. And, throughout April, they were scoring enough too.
The Kings did it last year; the Rangers will do it this year.