Even in times when they weren’t moderate underdogs, it seemed like the Washington Capitals had one team’s number in the Alex Ovechkin era: Henrik Lundqvist’s New York Rangers. King Henrik often kept over-matched Rangers teams in those series, yet the higher seed Caps won both series.* The third part of that trilogy will happen in the 2012 semifinals after the Rangers and Capitals won insanely close first round series.
The third edition has some interesting new wrinkles even if Lundqvist’s and Ovechkin’s names remain on top of the marquee. This time around, the Rangers are the No. 1 seed while the Capitals are the dangerous underdogs.
After jostling with equally emphatic coach Bruce Boudreau before, John Tortorella will get to soak up all the attention if Dale Hunter gets his way. Tortorella didn’t have a whole lot to tell PHT’s Joe Yerdon about the upcoming series after Game 7 yet, though.
“I haven’t even got that far yet,” Tortorella said.
That coaching difference will likely represent as big a change as who has home ice. The Rangers might very well see a little bit of themselves – or maybe their old selves – in the increasingly scrappy Capitals.
So, with all that in mind, what are your early impressions? Can Washington thrive in its underdog role again or will the Rangers get some revenge? Will Braden Holtby top Lundqvist like he did to Tim Thomas? It should be a fun one.
* The Capitals took the 2009 series in seven games and topped New York in five last year.