An opinion piece by Chris Cleveland
We all know the playoffs have never been good to the Capitals but this year is different. The Caps survived a really tough test in the first round from a young Maple Leafs team that really pushed the Caps with our speed. The Penguins first round series was a complete cake walk vs Columbus. The Blue Jackets really slept their way into the playoffs. It seems like once they lost the battle for home ice they really didn’t play with a sense of urgency against Pittsburgh at all.
I was looking at the rosters for the Caps and Pens and I was really surprised that the Penguins roster really only has four or five core guys. The rest of them seem just kind of meh . I know they have some young kids who are having a good season; however, I just don’t see them doing that well. Can they compete against a much more complete Caps team with three elite defense pairings?
The Caps, on the other hand, have the most complete roster in the NHL. From, top to bottom, from Alex Ovechkin to the grit guys that do the dirty work, like Brett Connolly and Lars Eller. The other huge advantage the Caps have this round is their defense which is a lot more complete. I have really enjoyed watching this newly formed Caps top defense pair of John Carlson and Nate Schmidt. I think those two guys are going to drive Pittsburgh nuts. They looked so good against the Leafs and I don’t see them slowing down.
So here is my breakdown of the series. I think as long as a much more complete Caps team can defend their home ice and take a 2-0 series lead. I do think they could go into Pittsburgh for games three and four and split it 1-1 their. Then they can bring the series back here and close out the series in front of the Verizon center faithful and rest up for the winner of the Senators and Rangers. Also I love that Marc Andre Fleury is in the net this series instead of Matt Murray. The Caps love to light up Flower and I think the Caps will get to him real early in this series.