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New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals First Round Series Preview

rangers vs capitals

It’s the New York Rangers vs the Washington Capitals in this Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series preview. The Rangers come in as the number one seed in the East while the Capitals squeaked into the playoffs as the last Wild Card at the end of the season. Let’s take a look at some storylines, odds and predictions in this one.

Rangers vs Capitals Odds and Promos

Series Odds (via FanDuel): Rangers -410, Capitals +315

Series Spread (via FanDuel): Rangers -1.5 -170, Capitals +1.5 +138

Total Series Games (via FanDuel): Over 5.5 -132, Under 5.5 +108

When you think of recent playoff history, an unlikely feud that stands out is the playoff rivalry between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals. New York had to play a little waiting game to find out their opponent for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Shockingly, Spencer Carbery’s Capitals came out on top of the Eastern Conference chaos. To no surprise, the Rangers enter as heavy favourites after clinching the Metropolitan Division, the Eastern Conference, and The President’s Trophy. However, if you are feeling ambitious, the recent play of Charlie Lindgren gives Washington some hope at +315 to win the series.

Rangers vs Capitals 2023-24 History

The Blueshirts and Caps met an even four times this season, hence being from the same division. Tilts were even at two a-piece, beginning on December 9 with a 4-0 shutout for Washington. Capitals fans might argue with this point, but this was the birth of the Charlie Lindgren phenomenon. Shutting out a divisional rival at home, in a convincing fashion, against his brother had to have meant a lot. Since the departures of both Braden Holtby and Vitek Vanecek, Washington had longed for a number one netminder. This result in early December proved that Lindgren was their man indeed.

In their first game after Christmas, the Rangers and Capitals met again on December 27. Surprisingly, New York routed Washington by a 5-1 scoreline. A first-period goal from former Capital Anthony Mantha led to five unanswered goals from the Rangers, including two from K’Andre Miller. The former Wisconsin Badger was a man on a mission, earning himself a three-point night.

Their third and fourth meetings came on a back-to-back weekend in January. On the 13th, in Washington, the Capitals ousted New York 3-2, including a third-period winner from the Warroad Kid himself, T.J. Oshie. The very next day, both teams headed north for a fixture in Madison Square Garden. The Rangers found revenge in the form of a 2-1 victory with two first-period goals from Alexis Lafrenière and Artemi Panarin.

Rangers vs Capitals Key to the Series

What the Rangers Need to Do to Find Success

Artemi Panarin needs to be listening to Zach Bryan on repeat. Specifically, just one song in particular and that happens to be Revival. Every single preview on the internet knows how important The Breadman is to this Rangers roster. His 120 points in all 82 games played is spectacular and proves that he is aging like a fine wine. Panarin is going to be the epicentre of Peter Laviolette‘s offence. He is going to need to limit the number of careless turnovers in the neutral zone and become more selfish (believe it or not). His line needs to test Charlie Lindgren early and put the goaltender on his heels from the start.

What the Capitals Need to do to Shock the Hockey World

The opening lines have Carbery’s squad as heavy underdogs, but that should not stop them. The Capitals are hot, having won four of their last five games to clinch the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Yet, let’s not be fooled, the -37 goal differential is alarming. Matching up with a team like New York, who tallied 282 total goals for this season, is scary for Washington. However, anything is possible when playing hockey. For Washington to pull off the upset, Washington needs to stay out of the penalty box. Their penalty kill is not awful, but it sits at the bottom half of the rankings at 19th. The Caps need to stay disciplined and keep the league’s third-best powerplay off the ice. If they can do just that, it is anyone’s series.

Prediction and Best Bets

Although they are heavy favourites, New York will not be breaking out the brooms  in this early. Rangers fans will tell you that nothing is easy, especially playoff hockey. Even this early, New York and Washington are going to be playing with the heartstrings of their respective fanbases. The recent form of Charlie Lindgren and whether the grizzled vets show up will determine Washington’s fate. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin are legends of the game and will leave it all out on the ice. Lindgren will steal a game or two, but baby brother Ryan and The Blueshirts will secure the bragging rights.

There might not be a ton of value in taking the New York moneyline, so look beyond that. If you believe in the postseason revival of The Breadman, take a chance on him. FanDuel has Artemi Panarin to be the leading scorer of the series at +130. Smells like free money to me.

Prediction: Rangers win the series in six

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Main Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports


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