Series breakdown: Capitals (1) vs. Rangers (8)
This year, Washington meets another eight seed, the Rangers, who are defined by coach John Tortorella's tireless style. Though not as blessed with pure talent and skill as the Capitals, the Rangers have proven they can adapt as well as any team in the league. They could struggle, however, without injured winger Ryan Callahan, whose tenacity and heart are even more valuable than his scoring (23 goals the season). But with five 20-goal scorers on their roster, the offense is by no means a one-man show. That said, if there is one man who holds game-breaking -- even series-breaking -- abilities for New York, it is Marian Gaborik, who has struggled this season and hasn't scored a goal since March 20. A sudden return to form would be a huge blessing.
If the Rangers have one clear advantage, it's goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who can steal at least one game in any given playoff series. Washington, meanwhile, will put its postseason hopes on young goalies Michal Neuvirth, who will make his playoff debut in Game 1, and Semyon Varlamov. Each was lit up by New York once this season. It won't be easy to tuck away those memories, but if the Caps give them some goal support and insulate them from second-chance shots down low, they can wash away those blowouts with a second round berth.