2024 Rangers playoff preview: Breaking down 1st-round matchup vs. Capitals

Rangers Trocheck Panarin Lafreniere
New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin (10) celebrates his goal with Vincent Trocheck (16) and Alexis Lafreniere during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

If there was ever a year for the New York Rangers to get over the hump and get back to the Stanley Cup Final, this feels like it. 

The Broadway Blueshirts have blistered through the regular season to cinch the Presidents’ Trophy and clinch home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs — however far that journey might go. 

A deep team that boasts undeniable talent on practically every corner of the roster, the Rangers are expected to make an abundance of noise throughout the postseason. But first, they will have to get through a familiar foe in Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

Rangers vs. Capitals 1st Round Schedule

Game  Date Time (ET) Venue TV
1 Sunday, April 21  3 p.m. Madison Square Garden, New York, NY ESPN
2 Tuesday, April 23 7 p.m. Madison Square Garden, New York, NY ESPN
3 Friday, April 26 7 p.m. Capital One Arena, Washington, DC TNT
4 Sunday, April 28 8 p.m. Capital One Arena, Washington, DC TBS
5* Wednesday, May 1 TBD Madison Square Garden, New York, NY TBD
6* Friday, May 3 TBD Capital One Arena, Washington, DC TBD
7* Sunday, May 5 TBD Madison Square Garden, New York, NY TBD

*If necessary


Rangers vs. Capitals Tale of the Tape

Rangers Stat Capitals
55-23-4 (114 points) Record (Points) 40-31-11 (91 points
1st in Metro Finish 2nd Wild Card in East
69.5% Points% 55.5%
278 (6th) Goals For 216 (28th)
226 (7th) Goals Against 252 (17th)
26.42% (3rd) Power Play % 20.61% (17th)
84.48% (3rd) Penalty Kill % 78.97% (18th)

Why the Rangers can win

Rangers end of season grades
The New York Rangers celebrate a goal by New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday, March 28, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Historically good: We have not seen a Rangers team this good in quite some time — and it just so happens to coincide with the 30th anniversary of their 1994 Stanley Cup title. They set new franchise records with 55 wins and 114 points on their way to winning a fourth-ever Presidents’ Trophy. The last time they had the best regular-season mark in the NHL, they made the Eastern Conference Final in 2014-15.

The Bread Man can: Artemi Panarin not only had the best season of his eight-year career, but he had one of the greatest seasons ever by a Rangers forward. He set career highs with 49 goals and 120 points, which was the second-most ever by a Blueshirts forward behind only Jaromir Jagr’s 123 points in 2005-06. This is as aggressive a Panarin as there has been. His 302 shots on goal beat his previous career high by 75 while his 651 shot attempts surpassed his previous best by an astounding 181. In previous postseasons, promising Rangers teams have been derailed by big players afraid to take the big stage. An aggressive Panarin provides them with a clear leader.

The return of Shesterkin: This is the Igor Shesterkin that everyone knows. Across his first 26 appearances of the season, his save percentage was an uninspiring .901 despite accruing a 15-8-0 record. Luckily for the Rangers, the play of Jonathan Quick kept things afloat in the crease and afforded enough time for the former Vezina winner to kick it into gear. He won 20 of his final 29 starts with a save percentage of .922. Since Feb. 12 (22 games), that number has swollen to .930.

Center depth for miles: At the heart of the Rangers’ lineup is a veteran group of centers with a litany of playoff experience. Between Mika Zibanejad, Vincent Trocheck, Alex Wennberg, and Barclay Goodrow, the Blueshirts boast 221 postseason games. Compare that to the vastly inexperienced Capitals where Connor McMichael, Dylan Strome, and Hendrix Lapierre have 13 playoff games to their name. Nic Dowd, Washington’s fourth-liner, has double that at 26.

Projected Rangers Lines

  • Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Jack Roslovic
  • Artemi Panarin – Vincent Trocheck – Alexis Lafreniere
  • Will Cuylle – Alex Wennberg – Kaapo Kakko
  • Jimmy Vesey – Barclay Goodrow – Matt Rempe


  • Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox
  • K’Andre Miller – Braden Schneider
  • Erik Gustafsson – Jacob Trouba


  • Igor Shesterkin
  • Jonathan Quick


Why the Capitals can win

Islanders Capitals Ovechkin
(AP Photo/John Munson)

The Great 8: As long as Alex Ovechkin is still playing, the Capitals will have a chance. His better days are obviously behind him, but he is still one of the NHL’s most dangerous goal-scorers on his day. His 18th 30-goal season is an NHL record and he had to heat up down the stretch to get there. He had eight goals through 43 games before pouring on 23 in his final 36.

Charlie Lindgren: The brother of Rangers defenseman, Ryan, will be manning the crease for the Capitals and he has been strong down the stretch — even if he has been overworked. He boasted a 2.67 goals-against average this season and his six shutouts led the NHL. Against the Rangers, he was particularly strong, going 2-1-0 in three games with a 1.35 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage. Washington outscored New York 8-4 in those games. 


Projected Capitals Lines

  • Alex Ovechkin — Connor McMichael — TJ Oshie
  • Aliaksei Protas — Dylan Strome — Tom Wilson
  • Max Pacioretty— Hendrix Lapierre— Sonny Milano
  • Beck Malenstyn — Nic Dowd — Nic Aube-Kubel


  • Martin Fehervary — John Carlson
  • Alex Alexeyev — Dylan McIlrath
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk — Vincent Iorio


  • Charlie Lindgren
  • Darcy Kuemper

For more on the Rangers, visit AMNY.com

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