Tuesday's roundup: Rangers-Capitals rings familiar
Greenburgh, N.Y. — The Rangers know exactly what to expect from the Capitals in the second round of the playoffs.
It's going to be physical, and it's going to take another big defensive effort such as the one the Rangers got against Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins in the first round.
This time, the task will be stopping Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
It is the fifth time since 2009 the teams will meet in the playoffs. The Rangers eliminated the Capitals from the 2012 and 2013 playoffs — in Game 7 each time.
"There are always a lot of memories," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said, recalling a number of overtime games, including a 2-1 victory in Game 3 in 2012 in three overtimes. "We have played them a ton so definitely a team we are familiar with."
The Rangers had their first full practice Tuesday in preparation for the series. Game 1 is Thursday in New York.
The Capitals eliminated the Islanders in seven games, and kept the Rangers from a backyard series.
It was a series New York fans wanted. The Rangers insisted they did not have a preference, although some admitted an Islanders matchup would have been interesting.
"I don't think there is ever a normal playoff series in the Stanley Cup," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. "You see some pretty intense hockey, tight-checking games and you never know what type of what kind of play will be the difference."
The Rangers won three of their four regular-season games over the Capitals. The last three were played from March 11 on, with the last being a 4-2 New York victory in Washington on the final day of the regular season.
Most of the Rangers watched the Islanders-Capitals game on TV on Monday, and were impressed with what they did on defense, limiting New York to 11 shots on goal.
Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein will return to the lineup after sitting out since March 11 with a broken arm.
In addition, Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello is out indefinitely after being hit in the head with a shot against the Penguins. Martin St. Louis will replace him on the line with Rick Nash and Derick Brassard.
... Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic says he sustained a torn left knee ligament that forced him to miss the first round against the Capitals.
Defenseman Calvin de Haan missed the final two games of the series after spraining his left shoulder in Game 5.
... Malkin played on a sprained ankle that was not completely healed during the playoffs, general manager Jim Rutherford said.
Patric Hornqvist played with a broken rib.
... Madison Square Garden officials moved Eric Clapton's Saturday concert to Sunday to allow for the Rangers playoff game. The Rangers host the first two games of their series against the Capitals.
Clapton, who turned 70 on March 30, will perform at the Garden on Friday and Sunday as part of a tour celebrating his birthday, MSG officials said on Twitter.