The Washington Capitals are once again the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2011 NHL Playoffs and they will look to vanquish their playoff demons from the past two years when they square off against the No. 8 seed New York Rangers. Game 1 will take place on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on Versus and Comcast SportsNet, according to the 2011 NHL Playoffs Schedule.
In Part III of our preview, we'll take a look at the Capitals' struggling power play and strong penalty kill vs. the Rangers' mediocre play with the man advantage and dangerous penalty kill.
Along with their high-scoring offense, the Capitals lost their touch on the power play this season. For two straight seasons, the Caps finished with a power play percentage of 25 percent or higher. This season, the Caps struggled at 17.5 percent. Washington scored multiple power-play goals in a game only 10 times this season, not something one would expect from a power-play unit with several offensive superstars.
Yet, with the power play's failure came the penalty kill's success. Washington's penalty kill ranked second in the NHL at 85.6 percent.
New York's power play was actually worse than Washington's at 16.9 percent. The penalty kill ranked 10th at 83.7 percent and had 11 shorthanded goals on the season, including five from Brandon Prust.
Special teams will be something to watch in the series. Both teams have a great penalty kill to combat mediocre power plays. If Washington can keep its recent hot streak on the power play alive (5-for-10 in the last four games), it can swing the series in its favor.