Washington (16th on power play; 2nd on penalty kill)
The Capitals dearly miss Green's quarterbacking skills to run the power play. He's dangerous both as a distributor of the puck, and for his deep drives into the attacking zone in pursuit of scoring chances. Alexander Ovechkin leads the Capitals with the man-advantage, producing 7-17-24 numbers. Washington was 27-3-4 when scoring a power-play goal. Seven different Capitals scored a shorthanded goal this season. Center Brooks Laich led the team with three shorthanded points.
New York Rangers (18th on power play, 10th on penalty kill)
Their biggest gun on the power play won't be firing in the playoffs. Ryan Callahan, who scored 10 power-play goals, is out with a broken ankle. That will leave the work to Gaborik, who led the team with 16 power-play points. The Rangers went five-for-five in five-on-three situations this season. They also produced 11 shorthanded goals, led by five from Brandon Prust. Only two playoff teams scored more.
You can't play a solid defensive system without plenty of grinders willing to pay the price, and the Capitals are loaded in this department. Matt Bradley is a physical presence who dished out a team-leading 241 hits. The Capitals went 7-2-1 when he registered a point. Boyd Gordon led the team by winning 58.1 percent of his faceoffs. Center Matt Hendricks equaled a career-high with nine goals.
New York Rangers
A tremendous combination of production and punishment, Brian Boyle delivered a team-leading 240 hits, blocked 86 shots, and also netted 21 goals. Agitating Sean Avery won 62.5 percent of his faceoffs this season. They will dearly miss Ryan Callahan, who suffered a late-season broken ankle. Callahan put the puck in the net 23 times, while serving up 224 hits and blocking 77 shots.
It's not difficult to suggest that as Ovechkin goes, so go the Caps. He shared the NHL lead with 11 game-winning goals and set up nine other game winners, but would be the first to say it hasn't been a banner year for him. He collected a point in 40 of Washington's 48 wins, and there's no question that a motivated Ovechkin could win this series on his own.
New York Rangers
Which Avery shows up for the New York Rangers? The pesky, annoying, chirping jabbing pain in the neck with a knack for getting under the other team's skin? Or the pain in the butt, selfish, penalty-taking fool who costs his team games? One thing's for sure — Avery could very well be a difference-maker in this series, one way or the other.
The Rangers are the thorn in Washington's side. They beat the Caps 7-0 and 6-0 this season, and had them down 3-1 in the opening round of the 2009 playoffs before squandering their advantage. They'll give the Caps all they can handle again this spring, but will once more ultimately come up just a bit short.
Prediction: Washington in 7
PHT: The Penguins' win in Game 4 shoved the Senators to the brink of elimination, but Ottawa has vowed to bring a better effort tonight (Coverage at 6:30 p.m. ET; Live Extra, NBCSN).
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