Washington Capitals Vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Season Capitals 2-0-2 (Penguins 2-2-0)
The Capitals have been the most dominant regular season team leading the charge in winning the Presidents Trophy these last 2 seasons.
However, they are having trouble translating that same success into a solid post-season run. Last year, they were stuffed from entering the Eastern Conference finals due to arch- nemesis Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, who would go on to win the cup. This year looks as if history may repeat itself as the two elite teams collide again.
As the Capitals look to avenge themselves, this previous series against the Leafs, does give cause for concern. Playing against a much inferior Maple Leafs team, they showed many signs of weakness as five of the Capitals’ six games against the Maple Leafs were decided in overtime. Also starting the series with a 2-1 deficit was completely unforeseen.
But the Caps can breathe, knowing the Penguins were not playing well either. Although beating the Jackets 4-1, the Penguins, allowed an average of 38.8 shots per game, including an incredible 51 shots in the Game 5 series clincher. Thank goodness they could bank on their offensive star-power and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who would start in relief of goalie Matt Murray who injured himself warm-ups.
Fleury was clutch, after only starting 36 games, he showed signs of his former self as he posted an average of 2.52 goals allowed per game, through a staggering 40 shots on goal a game average. Considering also, that he was playing against Vezina Trophy winner goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who would allow 3.88 goals per game on 34 shots on goal average.
n similar fashion, the Capitals were carried on the back of their goalie as well. Former Vezina Trophy winner and this years runner-up Braden Holtby. With all the offensive strength that permeates between both teams, you have to think the goaltenders will end up making the difference.
Both teams had at least 5 players put up 50 points over the regular season. With the big celebrity names in particular Ovechkin and Crosby, continuing to play at their peak. These two teams thrive on their offence so much, that they almost completely abandon defence when they play against each other.
During the regular season the two teams met 4 times, both teams taking 2 wins each.
While between all 4 contests their was a total of 35 goals scored. Almost 9 goals scored each and every game is almost hilarious, this and the famous rivalry makes for really entertaining hockey.
For the Pens when it comes down to moving onto the next round, the Penguins will have to rely heavily on Fleaury to continue allowing 2 goals a game, which is good as long as they continue to allow +45 shots on him. The Penguins will also come into this series running with a bit more momentum with Crosby, Malkin and Kessel always being a deadly force on offence.
The Capitals on the other hand will need to shake the difficulty of the Maple Leafs series and start fresh. To get the go ahead in this series, they will need to be excellent closers. That means putting the nail in the coffin during their otherwise dreaded 3 period performances. The Caps have the ability to overcome, but this becomes a large mental game if they look to take down Crosby.