Familiar FoesPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
By virtue of the New York Rangers’ Game 7 win over the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the two teams on Thursday, the Washington Capitals have drawn the Blueshirts as their second-round opponent in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Capitals took Thursday off after eliminating the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins from the playoffs on Joel Ward’s Game 7 overtime goal Wednesday night in Boston. They’ll resume practice on Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex and then travel to the Big Apple later in the day. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Rangers and the Capitals will take place at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Sat. April 28 at 3 p.m. with Game 2 also at MSG at 7 p.m. on Mon. April 30. The series shifts back to the District for Game 3 on Wed. May 2 at 7 p.m. and Game 4 on Sat. May 5 at 12:30 p.m. If necessary, Game 5 would be in New York at 7:30 p.m. on Mon. May 7 and Game 6 would be back in Washington on Wed. May 9 at 7 p.m. If a Game 7 is required, it would be played in New York on Sat. May 12 at 8 p.m. This will be the third time in the last four springs the Caps and Rangers will go head-to-head in the postseason, but this will be the first time in those last three meetings that New York will have the home ice advantage and the first time the two clubs have met beyond the first round. After losing the first two games on home ice and also trailing 3-1 in the series at one point, the Capitals roared back to take the 2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series from the Rangers when Sergei Fedorov scored late in the third period of Game 7 on April 28, 2009 to give the Caps a 2-1 win. Last spring, the Caps ousted New York in five games in the first-round series between the two teams. Overall, Washington has won seven of the last eight postseason games played between the Capitals and the Rangers. The last time the Capitals and Rangers met in the Stanley Cup playoffs beyond the first round was in 1994 when New York knocked the Caps out in the second round en route to its first Stanley Cup championship since 1940. This will be the seventh time the Caps and Rangers have met in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Washington has won four of the previous six series. Among all playoff opponents, the only one the Capitals have faced more frequently is Pittsburgh. The Caps have had eight playoff series against the Penguins over the years. When Washington ousted the Rangers in 2009, it did so with rookie goaltender Semyon Varlamov protecting the Washington crease. Last season, rookie netminder Michal Neuvirth was in goal when the Capitals eliminated New York. This spring, the Caps will send yet another rookie goalie – Braden Holtby – out to handle the netminding duties. New York’s Henrik Lundqvist will be in goal against the Caps for the third time in the last four seasons. He is 4-8 lifetime in a dozen career starts against Washington in Stanley Cup play, with one shutout, a 2.64 GAA and a .912 save pct.
In the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, the New York Rangers blocked 155 shots and the Washington Capitals blocked 139. Those were the top totals among the 16 clubs that participated in the first round. With the Rangers and the Capitals now set to go head-to-head in the second round,