The New York Rangers will face the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The best-of-7 series was decided when the Capitals (40-31-11) defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on Tuesday to earn the second wild card in the East, eliminating the Flyers, the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins in one fell swoop.

The Rangers (55-23-4) won the Presidents' Trophy and the Metropolitan Division. They will have home ice.

The postseason begins Saturday.

This is the 10th time the Rangers and Capitals will play in the playoffs and the first since 2015. New York has prevailed in five of the previous nine series, including the past three (2015 second round, 2013 first round, 2012 second round), each of which went seven games.

The Rangers and Capitals split four games during the regular season with the home team winning each game. New York won at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 27 (5-1) and Jan. 14 (2-1). Washington won at Capital One Arena on Dec. 9 (4-0) and Jan. 13 (3-2).

Who will win this series? That's the question before staff writer Tom Gulitti and senior writer Dan Rosen in this playoff edition of State Your Case.

Rosen: The Rangers didn't fluke their way to 55 wins and 114 points, or for the purposes of this series, being 15 wins and 23 points better than the Capitals. They are better in every single aspect of the game and area on the ice than Washington. Let's look at some of the boxes that need to be checked to win a playoff series: 1. Goaltending. Charlie Lindgren has been a terrific story, but give me Igor Shesterkin and his playoff experience and pedigree every single day. Lindgren also played in 34 of Washington's final 43 regular-season games; does he have enough left in the tank to outplay Shesterkin? I wouldn't bet on it. 2. Center depth. Mika Zibanejad, Vincent Trocheck, Alex Wennberg and Barclay Goodrow equals 221 games of playoff experience, speed, possession, face-off wins and defensive acumen. The Capitals simply do not match up. Their top three centers (Connor McMichael, Dylan Strome and Hendrix Lapierre) have played in a combined 13 playoff games. Nic Dowd, the fourth-line center, has played in 26. 3. Special teams. The Rangers are top-five in the NHL on the power play (26.4 percent) and penalty kill (84.5 percent). 4. Depth. The Rangers have players on each line that can score. Jimmy Vesey, a fourth-line forward, has 13 goals. 5. Defense. The Rangers are deeper and more talented on the back end. The best defenseman in the series is Adam Fox. He plays for them. 6. Artemi Panarin. The Rangers have him and the Capitals do not. I could go on, and I'm sure I'll have to counter Tom here, but I don't see the case for the Capitals. Tom, convince me.

Gulitti: Wow. The way Dan puts it, I don't know if the Capitals should even bother showing up. After all, a regular-season powerhouse like the Rangers never loses to the lowest seed in the playoffs, right? The Boston Bruins rolled to the Stanley Cup last season after setting NHL regular-season records with 65 wins and 135 points. Oh, wait. That didn't happen. They lost in the first round to the Florida Panthers, who snuck into the playoffs with 92 points (one more than the Capitals). All sarcasm aside, obviously, the Capitals are huge underdogs on paper. The Rangers are the far deeper team. The Capitals played the Rangers fairly even during the regular season, though, with each team winning its two home games. In fact, Washington was 2-1-0 in the three games Lindgren started, outscoring New York 8-4, and he had a 1.35 goals-against average, .955 save percentage and one shutout in those games. Shesterkin has playoff experience, but they had comparable regular seasons with Shesterkin playing behind a deeper team. Lindgren is 25-16-7 with 2.67 GAA, .911 save percentage and six shutouts (tied for NHL lead). Shesterkin is 36-17-2 with a 2.58 GAA, .913 save percentage and four shutouts. Offensively, Alex Ovechkin struggled through the first 43 games, scoring only eight goals, but his 23 goals in 36 games since then are fifth-most in the NHL and more than any Rangers player had during that stretch. And while Fox gets more recognition in New York, I'd argue that no defenseman was more important to their team than John Carlson, who leads the League in averaging 25:54 in ice time and plays in all situations -- even-strength, first power play, first penalty kill, late in games when the Capitals are leading or trailing.

Rosen: Carlson is so important to the Capitals because their depth on the back end is not strong. He stands out so much partly because he is that good, I'll certainly give him that, but also partly because there's no one even close to him. The Rangers have seen the emergence of Braden Schneider and K'Andre Miller and have the physical presence of Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren, who might have a few tips for his teammates on how to beat the Capitals goalie. Yes, Charlie is his brother. Erik Gustafsson can provide some offensive pop too, and the Rangers still have Zac Jones and Chad Ruhwedel waiting in the wings. They're not only better than the Capitals on the back end, they're deeper too. Ovechkin is the player everybody will want to watch in this series, but his history against the Rangers in the playoffs is not all that great. Thirteen goals in 33 games for arguably the best goal-scorer in the history of the game? And that was with him in his prime. He's 38 now, a physical specimen for sure, but will he keep up in seven games against a Rangers team that is faster than I thought it would be? In fact, that might be a big difference in this series too -- speed. The Rangers got faster with the additions of Jack Roslovic and Wennberg ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline on March 8. They move well up and down the ice. They're smooth in transition. They play well low in the offensive zone. They compete hard. The Capitals will not be able to grind them down. Moreover, the Rangers have home-ice advantage. They tied a franchise record with 30 home wins this season, tied for the most in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche. Two of them were against Washington. Beyond all of it, the Rangers have the wild card of all wild cards in this series: forward Matt Rempe. If he's a factor, look out.

Gulitti: The Rangers’ improved speed is a concern. The Capitals will have to play within their structure and keep it simple to try to slow the game down. If they don’t, things could turn on them quickly, especially with the scoring depth the Rangers have. But the Capitals are used to this. They have been playing the kind of tight-checking, low-scoring games that win in the playoffs most of this season. They had 20 one-goal wins and an NHL-low two one-goal losses in regulation, which demonstrates their ability to thrive and win close games. While the Rangers have been coasting for weeks with no pressure, every game the Capitals have played recently has felt like an elimination game in the playoffs. They had to win three games in four days to clinch a postseason berth, so they’re already in playoff mode. Can the Rangers flip the switch and quickly get into that mode when the playoffs start? The Bruins had trouble doing it last season. And as good as the Rangers’ power play has been this season (as Dan mentioned earlier), the Capitals have the top-ranked power play in the NHL since Jan. 27 at 29.3 percent. So both teams will need to be careful taking penalties, not just the Capitals. The Capitals have some veterans remaining from 2018 Stanley Cup team -- Ovechkin, Carlson, T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson -- but also have younger players who have little to no NHL playoff experience. McMichael has played four NHL playoff games. Lapierre, Aliaksei Protas and Beck Malenstyn will make their NHL playoff debuts. Those players were key members of Hershey’s Calder Cup championship team in the American Hockey League last season, but this will be a learning experience. There will be few outside their locker room that expect them to win this series, but they’ve already proven many wrong by getting this far. Why not do it again?