2013 NHL Playoffs: A Closer Look at the Washington Capitals

USA TODAY Sports

A look at the most dangerous and important skaters for the Washington Capitals and what they've done this season.

For the fourth time in the last five years the Rangers are going to meet the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers bested the Capitals 4-3 in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year but both teams are dramatically different from the clubs that met in the playoffs last year and this time around it is the Caps who have home-ice advantage.

The Rangers bested the Capitals in this year's season series, going 2-0-1 against the Southeast Division Champions with the Capitals only win coming in the shootout. However, we all know that the Capitals have been red-hot as of late and are 8-1-1 over their last ten games (the Rangers are 7-3-0 in their last ten). Let's take a closer look at the most dangerous and important skaters for the Capitals and see how they've contributed to the team's recent success.

PLAYER

POS

GP

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

Alex Ovechkin

L

48

32

24

56

Mike Ribeiro

C

48

13

36

49

Nicklas Backstrom

C

48

8

40

48

Troy Brouwer

R

47

19

14

33

Mike Green

D

35

12

14

26

Martin Erat

R

48

5

19

24

John Carlson

D

48

6

16

22

Alex Ovechkin- Ovi has found his game and was the league's leading goal scorer with 32 goals in 48 GP this season. Fourteen of Ovechkin's goals have come in the month of April and half of his goals this year were scored on the man advantage. We have seen enough of Ovechkin to know that he is a force to be reckoned with when he's on his game and healthy and right now there is no doubting that he is very much on his game. Ovi is going to be very difficult for the Rangers to contain, especially with Marc Staal's status for the series uncertain. This entire series might come down to whether or not the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist can find a way to derail Ovechkin, especially on the powerplay.

Mike Ribeiro- For the past few years the Caps' offense seemed to be dependent on Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Green but that is no longer the case. Mike Ribeiro became a Capital during the 2012 NHL Entry Draft when he was acquired from the Stars in exchange for a 2nd round pick and Cody Eakin. Ribeiro is second on the Caps in points and despite trade rumors surrounding him earlier in the season Riberio has been one of the most dynamic players for Washington this season. He is among the most creative playmakers in the league and seems to score his points in bunches. Ribeiro hovers around fourth in terms of highest TOI/G for Washington forwards. He is underwhelming on the faceoff dot, winning just 44.8% of his draws this season.

Nicklas Backstrom- To no one's surprise Backstrom lead the Capitals in assists this year with 40 in 48 GP. Backstrom is one of the few players in the league who is an even more creative and dynamic playmaker than Mike Ribeiro. There were a lot of concerns about where Backstrom's game would be after he missed 40 games last year due to injury but Backstrom came back strong this season. He may not have lit the lamp all that much this season but he still certainly looks like the Backstrom that opposing teams all know and dread- an intelligent and creative player that understands the game better than most and is lethal with the puck on his stick. Backstrom was second among Capitals forwards in TOI/G and was 51.4% on the dot this season.

Mike Green- Mike Green scored 12 goals in just 35 games this year. We all know he is prone to injuries but when he's healthy there aren't many blueliners who run a powerplay as well as Green does. The Rangers seemed to struggle with offense and shots from the blueline this season and that is exactly what Green brings to the table. The Rangers should make it a point to take the body on Green early and often to try and get him off his game. Seven of Green's twelve goals came in the month of April... if that isn't a scary stat I don't know what is.

Troy Brouwer- Brouwer buried 19 goals this year when he scored just 18 in 82 last year. I think it is safe to say that the big forward is having a career year. Seven of Brouwer's goals have come on the powerplay, putting him second on the team in that category. Brouwer is third among Capital forwards in TOI/G and is a man to keep a sharp eye on when he is around the net.

John Carlson- The young blueliner had himself a very solid season. Carlson is second only to Mike Green in TOI/G and leads all Caps in SH TOI/G. Carlson may not be the household name that Green is but at 23 years old he has all kinds of upside and just keeps getting better and better.

Martin Erat- Erat has played just nine games as a Capital since being acquired from the Nashville Predators on deadline day in exchange for the Caps' top prospect, Filip Forsberg. In those nine games Erat has just one goal and two assists but he's also been banged up. Erat has long been discussed as perhaps the most talented forward on Nashville but the system there hasn't allowed him to show the extent of his talents. Erat adds depth scoring to the very intimidating offense of the Capitals and is just one more player that the Rangers shouldn't give too much time and space to.

We'll make sure to take a closer look at the goaltending situation for the Capitals later on.

Which skaters on Washington's roster are you most worried about? Which lesser-known player for the Caps should fans and the Rangers keep a close eye on? How scary is Ovechkin right now?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Let's go Rangers. Let's go playoffs. Believe.

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