Well folks, the Stanley Cup playoffs have officially begun. With their 6-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night, the Capitals have advanced to the second round. Their opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both the Capitals and the Penguins took care of their respective series in six games.
For the third straight year, the Penguins will face the Capitals in the playoffs in the second round. It's no coincidence that the Penguins are also looking for their third straight Stanley Cup, a feat that has not been achieved since the 1980-1983 New York Islanders won four straight. It should also be noted that the Penguins have never won a Stanley Cup without beating the Caps along the way. So these teams were destined to collide right?
These teams have met in the postseason a total of ten times. The Penguins have won nine of those series. Yes, you read that correctly, nine. Despite losing some valuable pieces over the offseason (Kunitz, Cullen, Bonino, Daley, Hainsey, and obviously Fleury), the Penguins roster is still elite. Let's start with their centers. Crosby. Malkin (if healthy, he did not play in Game Six in Philadelphia). Brassard. Sheahan. That's more depth down the middle than any NHL team has had in a long while. It also bodes well for the Penguins that Sidney Crosby is tearing up the playoffs, pretty much scoring at will. Both Crosby and Guentzel sit atop the playoff points leaderboard with 13 points. In six games.
Phil Kessel hasn't exactly struggled but he has just five points in six games. Somehow that doesn't seem good enough, yet it is. Patric Hornqvist, despite playing just four games has six points and looks like he snorts coke every time he hits the ice. He's a damn force that can't be stopped. I can't say enough about Brian Dumoulin. What a presence. Dumo isn't supposed to show up on the scoresheet yet he has, tallying five points in six games. Most importantly, he's been one of the Penguins most solid defenseman next to Olli Maatta. Kris Letang had an ok series against the Flyers. To use a modified Forrest Gump quote, "Kris Letang is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get." When he's good, he's great, when he's bad, holy hell is he bad.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Penguins goaltending. Matt Murray. Despite a subpar regular season in which he faced a lot of adversity (the death of his father and a concussion) Murray has the ability to flip a switch in the playoffs. Was Game Six in Philadelphia his best game? Obviously not, but man the Flyers probably could have scored an additional 8 goals if we had some random jabroni in net like Sergei Bobrovsky, yikes. At least Matt Murray knows when the playoffs start. Speaking of playoffs, Murray already set a record and we just hit the second round. With his shutout in Game Four, Murray became the fastest goalie in NHL history to reach 25 postseason wins. He did so in just 36 games. That's absolutely incredible. If you want to see the company he joined on that list, look it up. What a player.
The schedule has not been released yet but here is what we do know:
Myself, I've got to assume the Penguins will open on Thursday night. God knows the NHL is so tone deaf in regards to their audience, they'd love nothing more than to put a crucial Game One on during the NFL Draft. That being said, that would set the Penguins up for a primetime Saturday night matchup. From there I would think, and I don't know, the Penguins would play Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday (if necessary, which obviously it will be). Either way, the Penguins can't win three without going through the Caps so buckle up.
I don't claim to know hockey but staying out of the penalty box would be ideal.
Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov combined for 9 power play points while defenseman John Carlson himself had 8.
Ovechkin tallied 3 power play goals in the series against Columbus and I'm pretty sure Nicklas Backstrom had an assist on every one of them.
The Capitals lead all postseason teams in power play percentage, clicking at 33.3%. (9/27)
The Penguins always seem to start slow, so it would be ideal if they could get their shit together early, especially considering they're on the road for the first two games.
Speaking of starting slow, the Capitals are 8-2 all-time in Game One against the Penguins.
The Penguins lead the league in goals for during the postseason with 28, so they're pretty good at scoring goals.
That said, getting Patric Hornqvist back will be a huge boost. Hornqvist in front of the net is a dream come true. Plus he makes people mad.
We are on #HagelinWatch. He left Game Six early after Claude Giroux delivered a high-dirty hit that would have had beer bottles flying if the roles were reversed.
Malkin didn't play in Game Six, but I'm pretty sure he'll be ready come Game One. He looks for any opportunity possible to make Ovechkin's life a living hell.
When asked about playing the Penguins for the third straight time Ovechkin said, "I can't wait." Meaning, he likely can wait.
Speaking of waiting, we may be waiting to see Caps forward Andre Burakovsky. He had minor surgery regarding an upper-body injury and I have no idea when the hell he'll be back.
Not sure the Capitals can lose this series and act like nothing happened. I'd imagine they'd blow the team up and Barry Trotz would be sent to the sun. Who knows?
Not sure about you but I'm ready to kill Tom Wilson, Brooks Orpik, and Matt Niskanen and we're still easily two days away from this series getting underway.
Also if you're not already, follow us on Twitter - @PensOfAnarchy, we're bringing the fire this round and throughout the playoffs.
We're ready. Are you?
Even Caps fans are becoming more and more familiar with the outcome. What a tweet.
Do it. Go Pens.
Old Posts from our site, heyyyyyfannnssss (4/11-2/15). Cute name, but impossible to remember.