Tuesday night, we posted what is now the first part of our “Around The Boards” playoff roundtable. With the series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers just hours away, we wanted to give you one more prediction column. We are incredibly lucky to welcome Chad Dukes, host of 106.7 The Fan’s “The LaVar Arrington Show with Chad Dukes,” to KOL to share his insight on the Caps and their postseason chances.
How do you feel the Caps match up with the Rangers? What’s the biggest cause for concern?
I like the match up. I am aware the Caps stunk against New York in the regular season. I’m aware that Henrik Lundqvist has the potential to to pull a Gandalf the Gray at any given moment. I think that the injury to Ryan Callahan made the difference in my stress level when the Caps drew the Rangers for the second time in three years.
Which Cap in particular must step up in order for Washington to have a chance to advance?
Mike Green. With Dennis Wideman and his nasty leg injury, how much Green can give us is crucial. As of the time I am penning this, MG52 is a game time decision. Clearly he is going to play during this season, but clearly getting a puck fired into your face is a scary thing. You can’t take a cortisone shot and tough it out when you have a head injury. For the Caps to win, I think that Mike Green has to not only play, but play well.
In the same vein, which Ranger in particular must be shut down in order for the Caps to succeed?
I don’t know if you can shut him down, but the equation must that must be solved is Henrik Lundqvis. Eleven shutouts this season combined with a 2-1 record against Washington is somewhat intimidating. I agree with what Craig Laughlin said on our radio show this week. Shoot high, score first and that will help neutralize Lundqvis. He has given the Caps fits in the past.
Which goaltender do you feel should get most of the work: Neuvirth or Varlamov? Why?
I got involved in a massive Twitter brawl with several members of the local media over this very question, so thank you for bringing it up. While we’re at it, why don’t you give me a nice papercut & pour lemon juice in it? I know Neuvirth got the nod to start Game 1, but I stand by what I said earlier in the week. When you set an NHL record for having three goalies that are less than 23 years of age, experience is a hard thing to come by. Varlamov has that experience. He has won games in the playoffs nearly single handedly for this team snd he got Ovi out of Bristol after their cover was nearly blown. Neuvy gets the start, but Varly plays the best minutes.
As far as a prediction, everyone seems to be all over the map. Clearly the Capitals have oodles of talent. They have acquired shot blocking machine Scott Hannan & the William Wallace-like Jason Arnott. They have a new found respect for defense and the ability to kill penalties on a regular basis. I can’t imagine Washington losing focus during this series. We all know what’s on the line if this team doesn’t make it out of the first round. I have the Capitals in six games.