After winning the President’s Trophy for being the top team in the league, the Blueshirts will begin their postseason run in a seven-game series against the Washington Capitals (3:00PM on MSG, ESPN). 

RangersRegular Season RankingsCapitals
1st League Rank18th 
7th Goals For28th 
7th Goals Against16th  
3rd Power play18th 
3rd  Penalty Kill19th  
RangersPostseason RankingsCapitals
N/ALeague RankN/A
N/AGoals ForN/A
N/AGoals AgainstN/A
N/APower playN/A
N/APenalty KillN/A

Rangers vs Capitals 

The Blueshirts are set to battle it out with the Capitals on Sunday afternoon to open the postseason. The two teams met four times in the 2023-2024 season with each team winning twice. The home side won all four meetings this season. New York got off to a hot start in the postseason last year after winning the first two games. Unfortunately for the Rangers, their season would come to a very quick and disappointing end as they would lose four of their final five games against the Devils to be eliminated in the first round.  

New York made a coaching change following the end of their season and brought in former Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette. Laviolette was relieved of his coaching duties by the Capitals upon conclusion of the regular season last year. Washington missed out on the playoffs last season. The 59-year-old has been well liked by the players in New York this season and he has led the Rangers to the most wins in a single season in franchise history. Laviolette knows this Capitals team very well, and the Blueshirts will be hoping he can help exploit their weaknesses.

For the Capitals, they went with first-time head coach Spencer Carbery to lead the team. Carbery has experience as a head coach in the AHL, and he was the assistant coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs before being hired as the Capitals head coach. In his first season at Washington, Carbery was able to steer the Capitals back into the playoffs by winning the final game of the regular season. Not many had the Capitals making the playoffs, but they stuck around all year despite being an underdog. Washington won’t mind being heavy underdogs against New York and they will feel like they are playing on house money. 


The Rangers enter this game with the better offense as they scored 278 goals this season, while Washington scored just 216. The Rangers have one of the best power plays in the league and that can be a big difference maker in the postseason. They will need their even-strength offense to be more dangerous then it was during the regular season.

Artemi Panarin was by far the best offensive player the Rangers had this season. Panarin recorded 49 goals and he finished with 120 points – the best season of his career. The Russian winger struggled last postseason, recording just one point in the first game and being held without a point for their remaining six games. The Rangers will need Panarin to be the superstar he was this season if they are going to make a run. His line with Vincent Trocheck and Alexis Lafreniere were dangerous all season and there were often the line relied on to carry the offense. Both Trocheck and Lafreniere each had the best season of their careers. 

Two players the Blueshirts hope they can get a lot out of will be Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. On paper, both statistically had good seasons as each had over 70 points and were plus players. But fans know they have more to give and that they disappeared too often during the season. Both Zibanejad and Kreider each finished the season strong, as Zibanejad enters the postseason on a six-game point streak and Kreider has points in three of his last four games. 

At the trade deadline last season, New York made the headlines acquiring both Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko. This season, they acquired Alex Wennberg and Jack Roslovic in depth additions to round out their lineup. Neither has put up crazy point totals, but both have been responsible and have really helped New York have a more balanced lineup. 

One player who could return this postseason is Filip Chytil. Chytil has practiced without any restrictions and he has been taking reps with the team. He has alternated on multiple lines and he could make a surprising return to the lineup. The Czech center played in just the first ten games this season and was out for the remainder of the season with a concussion. Chytil won’t play in the opening game for New York. Blake Wheeler also began skating on his own but he isn’t expected to return for the postseason.

The Capitals offense struggled this season and they entered the postseason having scored the fewest goals among playoff teams. They have 29 less goals scored than the second to last team. Dylan Strome led the Capitals in points with 67 on the season. Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin was one who also struggled for the Capitals. He had an especially slow start to the season, but he did manage to pick up the slack in the second half of the season and finish with 31 goals. The 2023-2024 season was Ovechkin’s worst point-per-game pace since the 2016-2017 season. The 38-year-old still possesses an elite shot and the Rangers know they can’t let him get many open looks. 

Other veteran Capital players including T.J. Oshie and Max Pacioretty missed many games this season and both recorded point totals not up to their usual standards. One name to keep an eye on his Rangers’ nemesis Tom Wilson. Wilson was involved in a now-famous post whistle scrum with the Rangers during the shortened season due to COVID. In that scrum, Wilson took a cheap shot at Pavel Buchnevich which started the scrum and he then went to grab Panarin by the hair and slam him to the ice head first. The Blueshirts are now better equipped to deal with any antics he may try as Matt Rempe has been a huge physical presence for the Rangers since debuting at the Stadium Series. Standing at 6 ‘6, Rempe has not been afraid to lay a check or fight anyone as he is learning the nature of the league. In addition, they also have Jacob Trouba who was out with an injury during that scrum. Opposing players know they must keep their head’s up and know where he is on the ice at all times. 


The Blueshirts defense has been good for the majority of the season and overall their team defense has seen some big improvements from last season. New York’s penalty kill is one of the best in the league. Some players who have been very good keeping the puck out of the net on the backend include Ryan Lindgren and Braden Schneider. These are not players who get many points, but they are vital to the team. The Blueshirts don’t have any glaring weakness on defense and they have Zac Jones who can come in at a moments notice and give them key minutes. 

Adam Fox recorded 73 points in 72 games from the backend. Fox has now recorded at least 70 points in three straight seasons. He quarterbacks the power play and he plays a key role on the penalty kill. Fox continues to be the Rangers best defender and quietly one of the best in the league. 

Laviolette finished the season with K’Andre Miller and Trouba split apart and that will likely be a rotation as the postseason progresses. Trouba will likely spend time with Erik Gustafsson when he isn’t with Miller. Schneider will also continue to get the opportunity to prove his worth as he formed an excellent pair with Miller, but he was also very reliable with Gustafsson. 

For the Capitals, they lean heavily on their top pair of John Carlson and Martin Fehervary. Each played big minutes down the stretch as both played over 27 minutes in the final game of the season against the Flyers. Carlson averaged over 25 minutes a game this season – the most by any player in the league. Washington has question marks on defense including Rasmus Sandin and Nicklas Jensen who are each day-to-day and questionable for game one. Sandin missed the final five games of the regular season with an upper-body injury, whereas Jensen was injured eight days ago with a concussion and was stretchered off the ice. Jensen practiced on Thursday and could be available for the Capitals on Sunday. 

Ethan Bear is currently in an NHLPA player assistance program and his status is unknown though seen as doubtful to be available at any point in this series. 

Washington’s key to success down the stretch was their team defense. As a team, they came together to limit the shots of the opposition and did not allow many scoring chances. If the Capitals are going to win this series, their team defense is going to have to be as good or even better than it has been.


The Rangers got excellent goaltending from both Igor Shesterkin and Jonathan Quick. Shesterkin will be the Rangers starter in the postseason, but it will be comforting in knowing that they have another goaltender they can win with if the situation arises where Quick has to enter the game. Quick has won three Stanley Cups, and he was the main focal point for two of them. Quick technically won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights last season despite not appearing in a postseason game for Vegas. Shesterkin recorded 36 wins with a .913 save percentage. As a backup goaltender, Quick finished with 18 wins with a .911 save percentage. 

For the Capitals, many thought Darcy Kuemper would be their starter. Kuemper won the Stanley Cup as the starting netminder for the Avalanche. Instead, it was a breakout season for Charlie Lindgren – the brother of Rangers’ defenseman Ryan Lindgren. In 50 games, Lindgren recorded 25 wins and six shutouts. His six shutouts were tied for the most in the NHL and he had one against the Rangers this season. The 30-year-old has a .911 save percentage compared to Kuemper’s .890 save percentage. 

Bet of the Night

Starting fresh for the postseason. The bet of the night is a two-leg parlay to start us off. The first leg is for Fox to record a point, the second leg is for the Capitals to record under 2.5 goals. At +122 a $5 bet will pay $11.10 for a profit of $6.10. 

Current record: 0-0

Current Money Total (Based on $5 bets) – Even as this is the first game

Projected Lineup










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