(3) Capitals vs. (6) Rangers
Capitals Leading Regular Season Scorer: Alex Ovechkin (right), 56 points (32 goals, 24 assists).
Rangers Leading Regular Season Scorer: Derek Stepan, 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists).
Capitals Expected Starting Goaltender: Braden Holtby, 23-12-1, 2.58 GAA, .920 SV%.
Rangers Expected Starting Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist, 24-16-3, 2.05 GAA, .926 SV%.
Capitals Injuries: Right winger Joel Ward (knee) is probable. Center Brooks Laich (groin) is out. Defenseman Tom Poti (bacl) is on injured reserve.
Rangers Injuries: Left winger Ryane Clowe (leg) and center Brian Boyle (leg) are out. Defensemen Michael Sauer (concussion), Marc Staal (eye) and right winger Derek Dorsett (left winger) are on injured reserve.
Capitals with Stanley Cup bling: Troy Brouwer, RW.
Rangers with Stanley Cup bling: Brad Richards, C.Something worthwhile about the Capitals: The Capitals had the league's best power play at 26.8 percent this past regular season.
Something worthwhile about the Rangers: The Rangers were the least penalized team in the NHL this past regular season with 183 penalties.
Something useless about the Capitals that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Former Penguins center Mario Lemieux holds the record for most points in a postseason game against the Capitals. He had four points in a 6-4 win for the Penguins in Game 3 of the 1992 Patrick Division final.
Something useless about the Rangers that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Lester Patrick, grandfather of former PEnguins general manager/coach Craig Patrick, holes the Rangers' record for most postseason series wins with 15.
Former Penguins on the Capitals: None.
Former Penguins on the Rangers: Arron Asham, RW; Rick Kehoe, professional scout; Glen Sather, general manager..
Who needs to be the difference for the Capitals: Alex Ovechkin. A Hart Trophy candidate, Ovechkin sparked Washington's push to the postseason in the second half of the regular season. He needs to maintain his level of play for the Capitals to beat the Rangers.
Who needs to be the difference for the Rangers: Dan Girardi (above), Ryan McDonagh. They will routinely be matched up against Ovechkin throughout the series. They need bring their usual brand of tenacious, collapsing defense to give the Rangers a chance.
Best Capitals YouTube Video We Could Find: Former Capitals forward Dale Hunter's overtime goal in Game 7 of a 1988 Patrick Division semifinal series:
Best Rangers YouTube Video We Could Find: Former Rangers left winger Esa Tikkanen's overtime goal in a series-clinching 3-2 win against the Panthers in Game 5 of a 1997 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series:
EN Prediction: The Capitals enter the postseason on a tear while the Rangers enter the postseason with several key players sidelined due to injuries. With the Capitals finally settling into the system of new coach Adam Oates, they will advance to the semifinal round. Capitals 4-2.
(Photos: Ovechkin-Rob Carr/Getty Images; Girardi-Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)