Ah, what tortures will Rangers coach John Tortorella have in store for Alex Ovechkin, back on top as the game’s No. 1 goal scorer? Torts loves to clog the slot in his own end, ring goalie Henrik Lundqvist with a human force field, and spring out of the zone with deflections and ricochets. The Caps, under rookie coach Adam Oates, prefer more of a freeflow attack, one that needed nearly two months to take hold. Had it not been for Ovechkin’s torrid run over the final 5-6 weeks, the Caps were headed for a DNQ. Instead, they captured the lackluster Southeast Division title, good for the No. 3 seed and home ice over the Broadway Blueshirts. Much like the Caps, the Rangers looked as if they would slip out of the playoff picture as the final month approached, until they cobbled together a late 5-1-0 run that inched them ahead of both the Senators and Islanders in the standings. They’ve got big talent up front in veterans Brad Richards and Rick Nash, but neither of them is the equal of the Caps’ Great Eight.
Prediction: Capitals in six.