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NHL Playoffs 2011 Predictions, Capitals Vs. Rangers: Caps Face A Tough First Round Test

The Capitals start their 2011 Playoff series against the Rangers on Wednesday, and it's about that time for us to try and make our picks. For a little help, we'll go to some of our friends around the Internet. Dave Gilmore has a big preview up at Baltimore Sport Report:

This year we get to face another world-class netminder in Henrik Lundqvist, and not-so-world-class backup Marty Biron.  While neither Michal Neuvirth nor Semyon Varlamov are on King Henrik’s level yet, you have to like the Caps’ goaltending depth in this series.  If someone is cold, the other guy gives you a just as good, if not better chance to win.  If Lundqvist goes cold, the Rangers essentially need to score 4 goals to ensure victory.

He goes on to pick the Caps in five games, giving all four wins to Neuvy. E.J. Hradek at ESPN also picks the Caps, but it's a lot tougher of a decision for him.

This is an incredibly tough pick for me. On one hand, I believe the Capitals are ready to take another step forward in the playoffs. They're playing harder and smarter than they have in the past. On the other, I think they've drawn a bad match. The Rangers are a gritty group that has every reason to believe they can beat the Caps. In the end, it won't be much of an upset to me if the Rangers win, but I'll take the Capitals in 7.

 

Personally, I like the Caps in six. It's not going to be an easy series by any means, but I think the Capitals are more talented. If they can get their offense on track against Lundqvist, it could end even sooner than that.