New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals, 7:30 PM at Madison Square Garden
Game Two, Eastern Conference Semifinals (Rangers lead 1-0)
Where To Watch: NBC Sports Network
Where To Listen: 1130-AM Bloomberg Radio, and newyorkrangers.com
Live In-Game Chat: 7:15 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
Monday night at Madison Square Garden the Rangers will look to do what they were unable to accomplish in their first-round series, and that is to hold serve on home ice and win the first two games of their second-round series with the Washington Capitals. The Rangers skated to a 3-1 victory over the Caps in Game 1 Saturday afternoon, with rookie Chris Kreider shining offensively with his second game-winning goal of the playoffs (most among NHL rookies) and an assist on the Brad Richards third period goal which sealed the game. Kreider now has three points in his first six games as a pro; and he will be celebrating his 21st birthday on Monday. Derek Stepan assisted on Kreider's goal in Game 1 and now has a three-game point scoring streak in the playoffs, with a goal and four assists in that span. Despite those positive offensive facts, the Rangers realize that they need to generate more scoring chances against the Caps, after recording just 14 shots on goal during Saturday's taught defensive struggle. Washington's rookie goaltender Braden Holtby might be a bit shaken after allowing three goals on the first 12 shots he faced in the series---after besting Tim Thomas and the Bruins in a shocking first-round upset---and the Rangers understand the importance of creating more doubt in his mind with a strong start in Game 2. The Rangers are unsure of the playing status of Brian Boyle, who has sat out three straight games due to a concussion---though he did practice again on Sunday. However it seems that Brandon Dubinsky will not play again on Monday. Dubinsky missed Game 1 with an unspecified injury and was unable to practice on Sunday.
Rangers-Ruslan Fedotenko: Though he does not play a glamorous role for the Rangers, Fedotenko is an important part of what the Blueshirts have done, and need to do, in the post-season. Fedotenko was named the third star of Game 1 after assisting on Artem Anisimov's goal, blocking three shots, and playing a big part in a Rangers penalty kill that was a perfect 4-for-4---including a huge effort in killing off a two-man disadvantage in the second period. His leadership and experience as a two-time Cup winner are invaluable to the Rangers.
Capitals-Braden Holtby: After crafting a .940 save percentage in helping oust the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins in the first round, Holtby looked extremely mortal in Game 1 against the Rangers. He surrendered Anisimov's wraparound goal, Chris Kreider's 40-foot blast, and a Brad Richards in-tight shot through the five-hole. Considering how few scoring chances both teams likely will get in each game of this series, Holtby needs to be better in order for Washington to compete on the same stage with the Rangers, who have Vezina and Hart Trophy finalist Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes.
"All (Saturday's victory) means is we win a game. We still have three more to go. We won Game 1 last time (against Ottawa) and it ended up being a war. We expect the same here. They'll be a lot better next game. Game 1 wasn't where the pace will be the rest of the series. So we'll see where it goes."-Brad Richards
The Rangers have posted a 31-11 all-time record in the playoffs when winning Game 1. They have won six of the last seven series in which they won the first game, including their first-round seven-game series win over the Senators this year.
After delivering a game-high eight hits in Game 1, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan leads the NHL with 38 hits in the post-season so far.
Will the Rangers make it two straight over the Capitals on Monday? Share your predictions below.
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