The New York Rangers were the one opponent no Eastern Conference team wanted to face in round one only a few short weeks ago. That sentiment changed when second-leading scorer Ryan Callahan suffered a broken leg, sending New York’s already inconsistent offense into a tailspin.
The main concern for Washington is the Rangers' defense, specifically goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has been in net for a career-high 11 shutouts this season. Part of Lundqvist's success this season has been his stellar performance at saving shots from long range, especially during even strength on the road. We use road games to eliminate scorer bias at Madison Square Garden.
Outside of the scoring-chance area (roughly the zone between the dots and top of the faceoff circle), Lundqvist has posted a sparkling .974 save percentage. Washington has relied on shots from past the top of the faceoff circles to the blue line to get on the scoreboard, scoring 27 even-strength goals from that area; Lundqvist has given up only nine in 34 road games – and none since a March 10th loss in Anaheim.
The Capitals seem to be the favorite to win, but their success will hinge on how well they crash the net.