First off, this is what everyone wants to see. This is the series that could make people interested in the NHL again. This is the series that could end as one of the greatest in recent memory.
However, it’s a series that alot of Pens fans didn’t want to see.
In my opinion, the Capitals are the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference playoffs. As the first round proved, the Capitals are a team you can never count out … of a game or a series.
Despite that, the Pens have the ability to use their talent and experience to beat Washington and move on to the Eastern Conference finals.
What we must look at is that the Caps beat a bad New York Rangers team. It took them seven games to do so.
The Rangers were probably the worst team in the East to make the playoffs, other than the Canadiens, which were a drama for the last two months of the season. In fact, New York probably is worse than all the teams to make the playoffs in the West as well.
The Rangers’ biggest flaw all season and into the playoffs was their inability to score goals. Sure they forced Jose Theodore out of goal and on to the bench early in the first round, but everyone knew he was shaky going in. Simeon Varlamov replaced him and, for the most part, went untested.
The Penguins can set the right tone by getting to Varlamov early and often. A rookie goaltender will melt under the pressure of the playoffs as long as you bring the pressure to him.
If there’s one team to do just that, it’s the Pens.
Pittsburgh needs to take it to the Capitals physically as well. For the most part, the Pens were more physical than Philadelphia in round one. Washington is nowhere near as physical as the Flyers.
Forcing them into mistakes will help the Pens cause. Before the deadline, physical intimidation didn’t seem like an option. Now, with Chris Kunitz, Matt Cooke, Bill Guerin and others, the Pens have an extra element that is stronger than Washington.
Finally, a split in Washington to start the series would be huge. The Rangers proved it can be done, winning both games one and two at the Verizon Center.
Lastly, everyone will be talking Alex Ovechkin as they key to the series. Sure, he will play a large role. However, this series might just prove his weakness — not being a two-way player.
The Penguins’ forwards are more aggressive on both sides of the ice and have the ability to create more chances, especially in the playoffs. The Capitals appear softer all the way through the roster, from forwards to defensemen.
Barry Melrose said Caps win. He also said Flyers in seven … dumb.
Chris | PPT