Insider Only Ovechkin, Capitals are Stanley Cup Final Bound; What’s Next for the Lightning & Lookahead to WSH-VGK

The NHL couldn’t be getting a better Stanley Cup Final when it comes to storylines.

The expansion Vegas Golden Knights and the Alex Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals.

Ratings will never be that high for the NHL but this matchup is going to draw a little extra attention from the casual sports fan and places like ESPN may allot 4-5 minutes of coverage instead of 1-2 minutes.

There’s certainly a lot of buzz surrounding this matchup and should be.


Capitals showing 2016 Penguins Resemblance

— The Washington Capitals finally did it with a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The series might have went seven games with the Capitals trailing 3-2 after give games, but the better team throughout the seven games prevailed.

Washington was handily the better team in five of the seven games and that says something with Nicklas Backstrom basically playing with one hand.

In Games 6 and 7 it was ‘Men among Boys’ for the Capitals.

They were that dominant.

The Capitals run to the Cup Final is becoming quite similar to the Penguins run in 2016, where all 18 skaters are playing inspiring hockey in all three zones to overwhelm the opposition.

On paper there’s some clear weaknesses with this roster but on the ice there just isn’t right now.

The Capitals are a four-line machine this postseason when it comes to playing an exceptional 200ft game, another resemblance to the Penguins in the spring of 2016.

Ovechkin reaching the Stanley Cup Final is great for the NHL and obviously him personally. The greatest goal-scorer of his generation has always deserved better fate in the postseason and a player of his caliber should at one point be able to play in a Final.


Golden Knights vs Capitals Matchup

The Golden Knights have been so good because of their speed/structure/puck pursuit game.

They come at you in droves and it’s overwhelming for the opposition.

The Capitals are not the fastest team but they’ve found a combination of playing fast with the puck/physicality away from the puck to take highly skilled teams out of their comfort zone.

Against Pittsburgh, they made the Penguins a one-line team and made Tampa Bay a club loaded with high-end skill to have to rely on goaltending and special teams to out-play the Capitals.

5-on-5 Washington was head and shoulders better than the Lightning.

What was so shocking with the Lightning was how slow the Capitals made them look because they didn’t let the Lightning get out in transition.

Barry Trotz seat has been very warm with Trotz himself believing he had to get to the Stanley Cup Final to have any chance of returning next season as Capitals management has been preparing for a year now to turn the keys over to Todd Reirden.

Trotz and his staff have finally figured out how to slow down faster teams in the neutral zone and it’s a big part of why the Capitals are Eastern Conference Champions.

Against Pittsburgh, the whole series looked like a grind at times for the defending Champs and the same with Tampa Bay.

That’s a credit to the Capitals.

Based on the last two rounds, the Capitals should be able to handle the Golden Knights relentless speed game.

Despite Vegas having home-ice and Marc Andre Fleury playing out of his mind, this is the Capitals series to lose.

They have the better high-end talent, the better top-flight d-men, they’re stronger down the middle and the goaltending should be a wash. Both netminders have been elite for much of the postseason.


— What’s next for the Tampa Bay Lightning?

The window is wide open moving forward but there’s still going to be some pain in failing to get out of the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three years after being up 3-2 in each series.

Do we see some small tweaks or a big splash?

Will the Lightning try for Erik Karlsson again even with the addition of Ryan McDonagh?

For over a year now, Tampa Bay has been regarded as a sleeper for John Tavares because of his close relationship with Steven Stamkos.

Do they go big and make a play for Tavares?

When it comes to the Lightning, though, some executives do wonder about Steven Stamkos Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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