Reporting Sky Kerstein
The #1 seed Washington Capitals will face the #8 seed New York Rangers in the first round of the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. It is a re-match of the first round of the 2008-2009 playoffs in which the Capitals erased a 3-1 deficit to win the best of seven games series 4-3. The Capitals are 1-2-1 against the Rangers this season, including getting shut out twice, 7-0 and 6-0. This is the second season in a row the Capitals won the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, last year didn’t go too well falling to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games. The Capitals have home ice advantage and will host games one and two at Verizon Center and Games five and seven if necessary.
Michal Neuvirth, who most likely will be the Caps starting goaltender come game one. Neuvirth (27-12-4, 2.45 GAA, .914 Save pct.) went 1-1-0 against the Rangers this season and a GAA of 4.50 with a Save pct. of .839. Neuvirth has never played in the NHL playoffs, but has won two Calder Cups in AHL Hershey. Henrik Lundqvist, 36-27-5, 2.28 GAA, .923 Save pct. will be in net for the Rangers and led the NHL in shutouts this season with 11, which includes two against the Capitals. Lundqvist has played in 30 NHL playoff games and is 14-16 with a 2.66 GAA and a .907 Save pct including three shutouts. Semyon Varlamov (11-9-5, 2.23 GAA., .924 Save pct.) is the only Capitals goalie with playoff experience. Varlamov in 19 career NHL playoff games has gone 10-9, 2.49 GAA, .915 Save pct and two shutouts. In each of the last two seasons, Varlamov hasn’t started game one of the first round of the playoffs, but has played in game two and started all the remaining Capitals playoff games of that season.
The Rangers will be without their Alternate Captain Ryan Callahan. Callahan has 23 goals and 25 assists but will miss the series with a broken ankle. Rangers Captain Chris Drury made his return in their last regular season game since missing time with a knee injury and has one goal and four assists in 24 games this season. Drury has also missed time with two broken hands this season.
For the Capitals Mike Green is expected to make his return for the first time since getting hit in the head by the Rangers Derek Stepan February 25th. Tom Poti is very close to also returning, but Dennis Wideman will miss the first round and possibly longer. The rest of the Capitals are good to go for game one.
Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau is 14-15 in four previous playoff series. He has won one series and lost three. All four series have gone to seven games and all four times the 7th game has been played at Verizon Center.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011 7:30 p.m. NY Rangers at Washington
Friday, April 15, 2011 7:30 p.m. NY Rangers at Washington
Sunday, April 17, 2011 3 p.m. Washington at NY Rangers
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 7 p.m. Washington at NY Rangers
*Saturday, April 23, 2011 3 p.m. NY Rangers at Washington
*Monday, April 25, 2011 TBD Washington at NY Rangers
*Wednesday, April 27, 2011 TBD NY Rangers at Washington
Sky Kerstein is 106.7 The FAN’s Capitals Beat Reporter and co-host of “Morning Skate” every Sunday from 9am-10am on 106.7 The FAN. Also you can find video recaps of every Caps game and post-game interviews on www.1067thefandc.com. You can get in touch with Sky on Facebook or via Twitter at www.twitter.com/SkyKerstein.