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Forwards: The rangers have a very deep and balanced forward corps, just like the Bruins. Lately, however, their best forward, Marian Gaborik, has been struggling on a line with speedy rookie Carl Hagelin and Brad Richards. If this line continues to play at their decreased level, Washington’s top unit of Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, and Alexander Semin matches up very well. New York’s second line – Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, and rookie sensation Chris Kreider (who was playing in college three weeks ago), has the edge over Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, and Troy Brouwer. The Caps have the edge on the third line, however, as Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, and Matt Hendricks have proved to be a great shutdown unit with some pepper and can control play against Ruslan Fedotenko, Brandon Prust, and a struggling Brandon Dubinsky. The Caps’ super effective fourth line of Keith Aucoin, Joel Ward, and Mike Knuble also should outclass Mike Rupp, Artem Anisimov, and John Mitchell. It is important to note that the Rangers are currently missing center Brian Boyle, one of their best players, due to a concussion. If he returns, things get a lot more interesting, but because of the shutdown ability I saw in the first round, I give the Capitals the advantage here.
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