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Round 2 Matchup… Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Round 2 Matchup… Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

In March – I provided a capsule 1st round match-up synopsis of my thoughts between the Caps and Pens and basically things are about the same except the change in the Capitals goal. Simeon Varlamov has played more playoff games than regular season games. His first playoff series and he comes up a winner with a 1.17 GAA, 2 shutouts, and a .952 SV%. Not too shabby even though that was against the offensively challenged New York Rangers who only averaged 24 SOG per game… many of which were not too quality.

How the Capitals can beat the Penguins: First off…

any “hot” goaltender can take over any series and Varlamov is pretty much a mystery at this time. The Capitals are a large team, possibly the largest in the NHL, and they have overall speed. Backstrom, Semin, Green and Ovechkin are the core players and provide most all of the offense. And, even though we get on Ovechkin he’s a player who can single-handedly dominate a game.

How the Capitals could lose: This is where things change a little bit from the earlier review. In March, I stated that the weak link on the Capitals was Jose Theodore and I do believe that if Theodore was in goal they would not make it through round 1. Bruce Boudreau made a major move sitting Theodore after the first game. But, trust me, the Rangers never gave Varlamov much of a threat and so the jury is still out on how he’ll perform with solid forechecking (like the Rangers did in Game 7) but with forwards and defensemen that are scoring threats.  The Capitals also remain a team that can’t stop taking really dumb and very untimely penalties. It’s been that way all season. Semin, Green, and Erskine are the main offenders. Some really boneheaded penalties!  It sounds like Boudreau could get that problem fixed but it hasn’t happened so far.                                                                                                                                              While Ovechkin is a player who can single-handedly dominate a game  it’s more that he attempts to take over every game and do it all alone. If this becomes the AO SHOW then I think the Capitals lose. If he is running around all over the ice like a chicken without a head, it will play a major factor in the game. This guy although very talented also plays very undisciplined. Their defense, supposedly was built to have puck movement skills yet has major problems doing so. The Rangers discovered (in Game 7) that a hard forecheck confused them more. The Rangers had the puck in their zone 80% of the first 2 periods. IMHO, Boudreau has to find a way to fix that problem, or combined with untimely penalities this could be a very short series.

How the Penguins could lose: IMO, the Capitals won’t fix the problem they have taking penalties and therefore our power play has to click better than what it has. It’s that simple. If the PP conversion rate isn’t increased this series could go seven games.  Mike Yeo the coaching staff needs to stepped it up.

Why the Penguins will win the series: I believe the regular season stats get thrown out the window. What helps the Penguins are two things… The first is the deadline deals which resulted in moving Dupuis, Kennedy, and Cooke to the 3rd and 4th lines. We now have 4 lines that can control puck possession and are all capable of turning the red-light on. That’s major. The second, and very important one is the Penguins are in the Washington Capitals’ heads, and have been for decades.  From their owner, Ted Leonsis to every last Capital fan sitting at home and turning on the TV to watch the game… they feel it.  It’s like magic.  When you have an owner who blocks area codes (412 & 724) from purchasing tickets and creates ticket purchase plans to keep the Flightless Birdie fans out of the Phone Booth… and fans who have witnessed the Capitals blowing it… it’s very clear that they all feel that some way – some how – no matter what the score – they know the Capitals will come up short.

Penguins in 7 games…. But it could be 4!

This is DR Hook… carry on.

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11 Comments

  1. Stealth's Gravatar Stealth
    May 4, 2009 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    [The Capitals losing to the Lightning in that series had a lot more to do with your players on that team not willing to follow your coach. Randy Carlyle the defense coach at the time was dumbfounded when he sent Calle Johansson out to nail someone (as retaliation) and he refused to do it.]

    Not that I agree with it, but that was one player in a moment in time… Cassady in way over his head and Jagr quitting on the team were much bigger issues… And Cassady was no scapegoat… He was incompetent, as was Glenn Hanlon after him… Are either one coaching at the NHL level now?

    [Witt, Johansson, and Kolzig who spent time to undermining Cassidy.]

    Those players are history, as are those lockerroom “clicks” that were apparently prevalent during the Kolzig era…

    [Your media and GM attempted to make it look like it was the coaching staff but deep down in I think most of you have to know that the team of Leonsis and MicPhee is pretty crumby and have yet to show anything except a few 5-year plans for the last decade.]

    There was a lot of incompetence all around, but you seem to want to give Cassady a free ride… And the CAPS, if you haven’t noticed, are a pretty good team of late… So, while I’m not a George McPhee fan, he has built a decent team that is battling your Pens in the second round of the playoffs… And he’s done it with a lot less of the prime draft picks that the Pens have enjoyed the last five or six years…

    [Leonsis was so piss-off during that Lightning series because 202 and 204 club level seats were completely empty that he laid out the fans.]

    I’m not sure why… It is my understanding that the club level seats are owned by Abe Pollin… That Leonsis wouldn’t get a penny of that money anyway…

    [Yesterday was the first time you’ve made it to the second round in a decade.]

    So? Like the Pens didn’t stink it up for a number of years as well? Don’t be a hypocrite…

    [The Columbus Blue Jackets came to be in 2000 - and your management team of McPhee and Leonsis hasn’t been much better.]

    Well, Leonsis and Co. have just as many CUPS as Lemieux and Co., since he moved into the owners box, so what’s your point?

    [They just have more hype. Some things never change. The Capitals are and will always be the NHL’s collapse artists.]

    The CAPS have hype? When did that happen? From my view, the CAPS are usually ignored by the hockey media in general, and not covered that well even by the Washington Post… As for being collapse artists, I have a simple question for you… Do you think the CAPS blue collar lunch pail teams of the early to mid 90′s were better than the Pens teams with Lemieux and Jagr in their primes? I mean, seriously… The better team won those series, and most of the time that was the Pens… The Pens underachieved to ever get down to the CAPS in those series… BTW, I thought the Bruins were the NHL’s collapse artists… ;-)

  2. KULT SKATER's Gravatar KULT SKATER
    May 3, 2009 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    The Capitals losing to the Lightning in that series had a lot more to do with your players on that team not willing to follow your coach. Randy Carlyle the defense coach at the time was dumbfounded when he sent Calle Johansson out to nail someone (as retaliation) and he refused to do it. That is a major indication of the problems in Washington. Carlyle got out of there and you fired Cassidy as the scapegoat for players like Witt, Johansson, and Kolzig who spent time to undermining Cassidy. Your media and GM attempted to make it look like it was the coaching staff but deep down in I think most of you have to know that the team of Leonsis and MicPhee is pretty crumby and have yet to show anything except a few 5-year plans for the last decade. Leonsis was so piss-off during that Lightning series because 202 and 204 club level seats were completely empty that he laid out the fans. Yesterday was the first time you’ve made it to the second round in a decade.
    The Columbus Blue Jackets came to be in 2000 – and your management team of McPhee and Leonsis hasn’t been much better. They just have more hype. Some things never change. The Capitals are and will always be the NHL’s collapse artists.

  3. Stealth's Gravatar Stealth
    May 2, 2009 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Kult Skater, I think Abe Polin, David Poile, and Bryan Murray have to carry that failure on their own shoulders… It was their team then… I can understand you wanting to transfer that failure to this new/different front office, but I don’t think that flies…

    I’m glad you put a lot of faith in a sportswriter… LOL!! I now have to question your intelligence… Tarik-El-Bashir? LOL!! BTW, how did A.O. look today?

    And the implosion to the Bolts, well, that was more of a Jagr quitting on the team implosion…

  4. KULT SKATER's Gravatar KULT SKATER
    May 1, 2009 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    @ Stealth
    You’ve got to be kidding. The players, owner, and GM (and the fans) in Washington will carry the burden of past failures until the Capitals do something about the failing. The excuses are already coming in. The WaPo hockey writer, Tarik El-Bashir, is hinting that Ovechkin isn’t 100%. Tarik El-Bashir (no relation to Terrorist El-Brashear, btw) adds that Ovechkin’s trainer has been flown in. Also according to Tarik El-Bashir his trainer comes in when Ovechkin has an injury of any kind.
    To me, Ovechkin, just like his yellow shoelaces, does whatever to garish attention. And if you don’t think your management group, players and fans don’t have the implosion against the Tampa Bay Lightning and history of the Penguin domination it in their minds your kidding your self.

  5. Stealth's Gravatar Stealth
    May 1, 2009 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Kult Skater: The players, coaches, and owner of the CAPS when they were losing those playoff series to the Pens, among other teams, are all long gone… These players carry no burden of past failures on their shoulders… Some fans, perhaps, but none of the players… I, for one, am looking forward to it… The only way to turn around that lopsided playoff record is to continue to have matchups with the Pens, and to win some of them… I have on idea what to expect out of this series, but I think it will be exciting… Those blue collar lunchpail teams are history, and now both teams have a wealth of talent…

  6. Stealth's Gravatar Stealth
    May 1, 2009 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Most CAPS fans did not want Gonchar to be traded… Just like we didn’t want Scott Stevens and Larry Murphy traded… That stuff is out of the fans control… Whatcha gonna do? His time with the CAPS will never be forgotten, and I’ll always wish the best for him… I just don’t want him to have any of it in this series… ;-)

  7. Boombastic's Gravatar Boombastic
    April 30, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    An interesting thing in this series is that of the Caps and their trading of Gonchar during that dump of players all led by Ted Leonsis blowing his cool over fans attendance during the playoffs and his own braincramp signing Jagr and then paying half of Jagr’s salary after he played for the Rangers. Remember the return? Anson freaking Carter. The Caps kept old washed-up players like Kolzig yet traded Gonchar. Gonchar was traded to Boston for Morrisonn and Shultz and right now if Gonchar and Green were on the Caps blueline this game would look a lot different. There is no doubt than Green put up some numbers during the regular season but given the choice for this series who would you rather have. The Norris nominee or Gonchar. I’d take Gonchar. I’m hoping that he comes up big in this series because the guy is nothing but class. If he does, he won’t say anything but we’ll all know that.

  8. April 30, 2009 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Why 3 days off in between series, I thought if you went seven games, the players would be tired because there would only be one day off in between series?

    The announcers used to always talk about the fresh and the tired team. When did it become 3 days – it’s no wonder the teams play until the middle of June.

  9. PenguinSteve-O's Gravatar PenguinSteve-O
    April 30, 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Gill always steps it up in the playoffs.
    Pens will test this new goalie. Could benefit the pens in a major way.
    Pens have 4 lines. enough said there.
    Rangers cycled the puck easily. take note DB.
    Hopefully our special teams dont hurt us again this series.

  10. KULT SKATER's Gravatar KULT SKATER
    April 30, 2009 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    A fair and balanced and honest look. Especially honest about the Capitals psyche! From their owner down to everyone of their fans they know they went 56 minutes without being able to dump the Rangers. When you add how they haven’t been able to handle the Pens very well in the playoffs it’s gotta be working on them mentally. I think it will get down to our PK vs. their PP and their PK vs. our PP. There’s other factors but I think the special teams in this case are really “special” teams. The regular season games get tossed unless Shero and Blysma decide to bring you Minard, Jeffery, Wallace and Bissonette and that isn’t going to happen. The Pens are a much different and improved team. The Capitals don’t stink by any means but I went with the Pens in 7.

  11. RBuckle's Gravatar RBuckle
    April 30, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I agree, we have a whole different team heading into the playoffs, and for one, a more experienced team than the Capitals. The goaltenders are going to get a workout and Hal Gill is going to need to step it up a notch because of Washington’s size. It’s going to be a great series, I think the first game there will be a lot of crazy after play stuff going on, but then it should settle into some great hockey.


            

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