If the Washington Capitals are able to come into Madison Square Garden Saturday night and knock off the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Henrik Lundqvist just may officially give up ever playing against the Caps in the playoffs again.
This is the third time in four years that Lundqvist and the Rangers have had to cross paths with the Caps on the road to the Cup. Both times the Rangers came up short, and both times the veteran Lundqvist was out-dueled by a goaltending prodigy for the Capitals—Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth. The only difference this time around is the two teams are meeting in the semifinals instead of the quarterfinals—well, that and Braden Holtby, the third Caps goaltending prodigy in the last four years, may actually be better than the last two.
And despite what Lundqvist may say, that has to give him pause.
Remember, the Rangers were the favorites from the outset of the playoffs. Most thought when the Ottawa Senators took the Rangers to seven games, it was merely an aberration. Yet here the Rangers are again, going the distance in another series where they were expected to win with relative ease. And once again, Lundqvist must go up against a Capitals team that has gotten the best of him over the last few years.
The numbers aren’t in his favor. Prior to the start of this series, Lunqvist and the Rangers are 2-3 at the Garden over the last five playoff games against the Capitals.
Will this finally be the year that Lundqvist exercises his Capitals demons?