In the 1986 Patrick Division finals, The NYR defeated the Caps in 6 games. The Rangers were led by Pierre Larouche, Bob Brooke and future Cap Mike Ridley, while John Vanbiesbrouck held the fort between the pipes. Washington’s roster included Mike Gartner, Scott Stevens, Larry Murphy and their starting goaltender was Pete Peeters.
In 1990, it would be the Caps taking the Patrick Division crown over the Rangers in 5 games. This will forever be remembered as the year of John Druce, as the Washington player came out of nowhere to fire 14 playoff goals. Geoff Courtnall, Dale Hunter and Dino Ciccarelli also starred for the Caps that year, while Don Beaupre and Mike Liut shared goaltending duties.. The Rangers were spearheaded by the likes of Bernie Nicholls, James Patrick and Kelly Kisio. In nets, JVB was still #1, but a young Mike Richter was slowly taking over.
The following year in 1991, Wahington took out the Rangers again, this time in the division semi-finals in 6 games. Washington was led by Dale Hunter, Dino Ciccarelli and Mike Ridley, however John Druce only provided 1 goal in the playoffs, while Don Beaupre handled the goaltending load. The NYR were led in playoff scoring by Nicholls and Brian Leetch and Mike Richter started all but 1 of the games in goal.
1994, as we know, was the year of the NYR, as they won both the Presidents Trophy and Stanley Cup. Along the way they defeated the Caps in the Conference semi-finals in 5 games. The Rangers were deep, with likes of Mark Messier, Conn Smythe winner Leetch, Alexei Kovalev, Sergei Zubov and Steve Larmer, while Mike Richter won all 16 games in goal. The ’94 Capitals featured Hunter, Ridley as well as rivalry newcomers Joe Juneau and future 50 goal man Peter Bondra. Beaupre, Byron Dafoe and Rick Tabarracci all saw time between the pipes.
The 2 teams would not meet again for 15 years, this time tangling in the 1st round of the 2009 playoffs. It would be a tight series, with the Capitals eventually winning in 7 games. Sergei Federov scored the series winner in the 3rd period to advance Washington. The Caps also had supreme firepower with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin along with high scoring D man Mike Green. Seymon Varlamov replaced Jose Theodore in Game 1 and never looked back. New York’s top scorer’s were Scott Gomez and Brandon Dubinsky with Henrik Lundqvist now firmly planted in the starter’s role.
Last season, Washington dispatched the Rangers in 5 games in Round 1, though the series was closer than the outcome might indicate. Ovechkin was joined by Brooks Laich and Jason Arnott as the top 3 scorers, and Michael Neuvrith started all 5 games of the series. The NYR were led by 3 point scorers Wojtek Wolski and Dubinsky. Lundqvist again provided the goaltending.
Alot has changed since last season. This time the Rangers were the #1 seed in the conference. Former Smythe winner Brad Richards is in the mix. Braden Holtby has emerged for the Caps and has been brilliant.
So who will move on after tonight’s game? The Capitals have the playoff history on their side.
But, it’s Game 7, you can throw all stats, seedings and history out the window because anything can happen.