Series Buzz: Capitals Advantage only on paper?
For Penguins – Capitals, when you breakdown a lot of areas between the two clubs, the Capitals enter Round 2 as the favorite but as the series begins Thursday night in D.C., there is certainly a pause surrounding who is the favorite in the series.
Washington has the goaltending edge, they have the better personnel on the blueline, a better power play and they draw more penalties.
Pittsburgh has the edge at forward and also have that special championship mystique about them that makes them such a daunting task to beat four out of seven times.
Not only are the Penguins defending champions, there is that history thing backing them where they have won eight of the nine all-time series between the clubs.
All of the pressure is on the Capitals this series.
Pittsburgh won that coveted second Stanley Cup of the Crosby era last summer that no longer that has a cloud around the Penguins previous playoff failures. Pittsburgh loses to Washington there will still be disappointment but with their injury situation and the fact it is so hard to repeat, there isn’t much pressure on them at all.
Crosby vs Ovechkin Round 3 and it is fitting that for the Capitals to finally break through they will have to try to go through Pittsburgh again and that’s how it should be.
Some of the Capitals top guns like Nicklas Backstrom are playing the underdog card already.
Pittsburgh and Washington played three overtime games last spring with Pittsburgh winning twice and Washington once. With a few lucky breaks, that could have been Washington not Pittsburgh making the Cup run in 2016 but anyone with neutral eye in watching that series knows Pittsburgh was the better team.
Identifying the areas that put the Penguins over the top last spring, was more speed and depth at the forward position and Matt Murray slightly outplaying Braden Holtby.
The waves Pittsburgh came at Washington saw Pittsburgh dictating most of the series and Washington doing the reacting.
The burning question is whether Washington is better equipped this season to combat the Penguins strength’s that overwhelmed them last spring.
On paper, yes, and the unpredictable element is out of the way as the Penguins style and speed they play with certainly won’t catch the Capitals coaching staff by surprise this time around like it did in 16 playoffs.
But, as the Toronto series showed again was a more skilled and faster team with a slew of high-end players giving Washington similar problems that the Penguins give them.
We’ll find out soon enough whether the Toronto series gave Washington a good tune-up for the Penguins or was a sign of problems to come for the Capitals.
Throughout the 16 series, Pittsburgh tormented Washington’s bottom-tier defenseman. Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov were a train-wreck and a problem for Washington wasn’t Brooks Orpik’s suspension but Karl Alzner playing badly injured throughout the series.
Their top-3 defenseman in Alzner, John Carlson and Matt Niskanen couldn’t cover enough for the rest of the group.
Washington’s blueline with the addition of Kevin Shattenkirk to the third pair and improvement from Orlov and Schmidt is much better to matchup against the Penguins this time, that is of course if Alzner is healthy enough to get through the series as he missed the final two games of the Leafs series.
However, the Penguins pose a bit different of a matchup game for the Capitals.
Their first and second lines are much more dangerous.
Evgeni Malkin is a different animal this time around than last post-season and the Penguins have a special second line developing around Malkin. The HBK line was great in 16 and had a cult following but the way Malkin is going and the linemates he has, it’s a much scarier combination for the Capitals to deal with, even if their personnel is better on the backend this post-season.
The dynamic the Penguins also have is options to make tweaks with their top-6 if needed and we’re already seeing it before the series has begun with Conor Sheary being bumped to the 3rd line and Patric Hornqvist moving to the top-line.
For Pittsburgh, there are three major contributors from last years second round series that are out of the picture right now.
—Kris Letang is out for the season, giving Pittsburgh no legitimate No. 1 pairing to matchup against the Capitals top-2 lines. You look at the Penguins personnel on the blueline and there’s no excuses for Evgeny Kuznetsov not to have a big series.
—Matt Murray is not even skating yet and a longshot to play in the series at this point. Murray posted a .926 save percentage in the Capitals series and it was Murray not the Penguins speed game that Washington players credited for being the ‘difference’ in the series.
Can Marc Andre Fleury continue to play well over his season and career numbers like he did in Round 1? Whether he does or not will dictate where this series goes. The Penguins project to have to at least .925 save percentage goaltending to advance.
Washington will be a much more difficult task for Fleury in stopping second and third chances and we’ll find out soon enough whether Murray’s absence becomes a problem for the Penguins or not. Fleury surely answered the bell in Round 1.
Carl Hagelin’s performance vs the Capitals in 2016 can’t go unnoticed. He had 7 points in six playoff games vs the Capitals and was a huge factor combined with Nick Bonino on the third line that helped sway the series.
“He obviously increases our speed because of what he brings to our team,” Mike Sullivan said today of Hagelin who remains out.
The depth performances from Hagelin and Bonino last season saw Washington prioritize getting a little more skill and speed in their bottom-6 this season but was it enough?
They added Lars Eller who had 12 goals and 25 points on the season and Brett Connolly had a breakout season with 15 goals in a 4th line role.
There’s a bit more skill there that’s led to stronger possession numbers for Washington but that’s still an area where the Capitals don’t look fast enough against quick teams like Pittsburgh and Toronto for example.
“We’ve got plenty of speed throughout our lineup,” Mike Sullivan said of his hockey club. “That’s obviously part of the fabric of this team’s identity and its competitive advantage and we’re trying to play that.”
A key under the radar player for the Capitals in this series is going to be Andre Burakovsky. The speed and talent just never seems to match production but he can be that player against a Penguins D right now that is a bit slow footed and struggles with clean exits who gives Washington a speed and chaos dimension in their bottom-6 that poses the Penguins headaches similar to what Hagelin did to Washington last post-season.[/hide]
D can’t even get the game times right, outside of saturday hes going to miss a few 1st periods.
that’s classic d – great attention to detail
Do you really believe he watches them anyway?
My biggest concern is what Canadian broadcasters this series gets, the last series i was stuck listening to the bluejackets feed, was just god awful.
senile or not ill always settle for bob cole
SN has the rights so it should be them. CBC picked up in the 1st round but I am not sure they will get much now that the schedule thins out
game 1 is SN, cbc has the rest
Maybe that’s why we don’t get news about the game when it’s finished
Eichel > McDavid
Good call by Trump. Fuk Canadian lumber.
Since when you support trump you fat fuckk. And good for him about the lumber less trees to get destroyed. Since your Democrat presidents enjoyed harming the environment.
Oh wow this is interesting… sammich did you just flip flop?
Are you asking if Sammich pulled a Fleury?
Oh i get it. More maple syrup for you!
I would honestly hope that all of us in here would love to see Fleury be a hero and the spend to win on his back. What a great end to a good career.
People forget he used to face 50+ shots a game on a brutally awful Pens team.
Stand with the guy and hope we win. If he sucks then he’s his due criticism. But I’ll hold out hope he plays like a rockstar and stone OV8 as the game opens
Did Same write that post for you?
If the Penguins can split in Washington that will be perfect storm for us coming back here next Monday. Just need to win one in DC
Matt Murray = Mr Glass
It is critically important for the Pens to play well in front of fleury and to try to prevent giving up a goal the first and last minute of a period.
It wouldn’t hurt if the Pens could steal game 1 and really boost Fleurys confidence.
Everyone has to step up…. everyone
It wouldn’t hurt for the pens to win game 1, lol well ya
FWIW the Pens have lost every game one they faced the Caps then went on to win the series!
So your saying it would hurt to win game 1??? lol
Not at all! It’s just an interesting stat and something to think about if they do lose game one. I would prefer not to go back to that well as a fan however
Hey Yoda, Murray is done. For once in your miserable life embrace your so called team and stop with the Fleury narrative. You say you’re a Pens fan but I can’t tell by your posts. You’re like a crackhead who can’t put the pipe down when it comes to Fleury. Prove everyone wrong for a change and watch the game with an objective eye.
The only thing better than the Pens accomplishing a repeat this year would be doing it with MAF. Now its a monumental task and we all know what will happen if the Pens lose DESPITE missing Letang and a few other regulars but holy shit of they were to get the job done… #relentless lol
Note I made that comment back in December. Fleury will carry the Pens to another cup in the greatest redemption story every. Now that’s pretty unlikely but what a great story It would be.
i do watch with an objective eye. it’s everyone else who doesn’t.
Wow… this is a classic line. You should change your name to Seymour Skinner
You don’t and everyone knows you can’t reason with stupid people. From your posts I read, you know very little about hockey.
You shouldn’t engage in debate or arguments with them either
It wasn’t an argument, it was more of a plea for him to do the opposite for a change.
Because we support the goaltender in net we arent watching with an objective eye?…your so stupid and annoying with the fleury stuff no one wants to agree with you……no one has come out and said fleury doesnt let in bad goals, you assume that because we still support the team when hes in net…according to you we must stop rooting for the pens and stop watching because fleury ios in net…thats stupid and the signs of a bad fan and a non-objective watcher…I’ll hope whoever is playing, plays great no matter how much i like or disslike them as a… Read more »
ColeTrain32 really captured the spirit of the thing! Top Notch! Couldn’t agree more.GO PENS! GO FLEURY!!
This is probably the funniest thing I’ve read all day. No – wait – it’s still that Ron Hainsey is a reliable proxy for Taylor Chorney.
youre struggling (and no one likes you)
You’re wrong Stain has Npl the fat slob #BlackCockMatters Hilary lover and fake Canadian, wannabe American Ron Klatt that likes him
Sammich Snowfrogfromfakecanada has spoken
vegas betting lines are out. the over/under betting line on the saint’s save% is .892%
What’s the over/under on number of times you’d let him fuck you if he apologized for running out the door while you were “cleaning up?”
Guy was 5th in the 1st round and 4th of the guys that made it to round two yet cockface is still running his stupid little mouth. Dumbshit
He can’t help but have his mouth open when Fleury is around. LIke Pavlov’s dog.
You’re an angry little guy
We’ve been over this, it’s a low tolerance for unmitigated stupidity.
you attack the messanger without giving your prediction. will it be the over or under?
Pens will almost assuredly lose now, considering D’s headline. It’s as sure fire of a thing as when Sam calls out Bobby Ryan and he scores five minutes later.
The Saint outplayed bobrovsky but will he outperform holtby? Let’s just hope the Saint can perform another miracle like the 09 season. I’m curious to see how the Saint overcomes the adversity fot this series. You know the caps will have a game where they will score 5. Will it equal a mental breakdown for the Saint or will he be able to get back on track and remain calm like he did in the jackets series after a lousy game 4? We shall see.
Why was ’09 a miracle? You didn’t say anything back then though, because it was so far pre-coitus. You creepy little weirdo, you.
How much did you weigh eight years ago BoxScore?
Which ever team gets better goaltending will win. Pretty simple. I appreciated Midget’s effort in round one, stats aside. But if he lays an egg against trhe Caps no one is going to remember the Columbus series.
Probably true – I mean, you two idiots can’t even remeber series in ’14 and ’15 against the Rangers ffs.
what i remember about those series where that the saint was outperformed by the guy at the other end.
We know, it’s all you can ever muster about everything that happens. It’s not an indictment of MAF as much as it’s evidence you don’t understand what you are watching.
That’s because the guy at the other end didn’t leave you sitting on a donut for the better part of two weeks.
And because you’re an utter idiot that barely understand the game aside from “it had to be the goalie.”
2014-15, was that before your sex change Box Score? I’m pretty sure nobody with a penis that doesn’t own a Fleury replica game jersey is reminiscing about the 2014-15 playoff failures.
That’s a weak retort – even for you. The failures in those years had literally nothing to do with him. But again, you’d have to have watched the games to know that, and you were probably cleaning the remnants of your wife’s giant bush out of the shower drain. Stick to what you know, princess.
That’s right, I forgot your theory that the guy that gets paid the most should score every game. It was SID’s fault!
My theory? No – I think it’s pretty factual that when Brian Gibbons has more goals than “the best player in the world,” and Taylor Chorney is starting on your blue line in the playoffs, it’s hard to blame the guy that had back to back shutouts to get you to 3-1. Then again, I don’t have that #KeenDekHockeyEye
Can’t be any worse than Ron Hainsey in your top pairing, but that’s your boy so you’ll have to come up with another excuse for Midget. And don’t sell yourself short, your ball hockey talents clearly have spilled over into this site.
Yeah. Hainsey and Chorney. Same guy. Do you try to make yourself look this dumb? Or is it just the natural skillset of a humble dek hockey housewife.
Yes, Hainsey. The guy who played 900 NHL games and never made it to play playoffs until finding himself on the Penguins team. You picked yourself a winner box score
That’s probably indicative of him being a career minor leaguer. Like chorney. 900 NHL games. You’re a special kind of stupid. But you knew that. Same guy! Midget!
are you banging Ron Hainsey..come clean