Promoted from Fanposts (FrankD)
Well, well, well, after tonight's events, the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to go from eliminating the team that they hate the most to being matched up with the player that they hate the most. Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals will be the Penguins second round opponent in this postseason.
For 58 minutes it was looking like the Pens would be matched up with the Bruins until the Carolina Hurricanes scored two goals in less than a minute to eliminate the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 of their series.
The Capitals won the season series against the Penguins three games to one but that can be deceiving. Two of the Caps' wins came while Sergei Gonchar was out of the lineup and guys like Paul Bissonette, Chris Minard, Dustin Jeffrey, and Tim Wallace were playing on a regular basis. Also, the one win the Penguins got was with their current roster which includes Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin.
The biggest question mark coming into this series for the Capitals is their goaltender, Simeon Varlamov. He was outstanding after replacing Jose Theodore in net in the series with the New York Rangers but this is the first significant action he has ever seen at the NHL level. The deeper he gets in the playoffs, logic would suggest that he would begin the rattle.
The Pens' biggest concern coming into this series has to be Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. Not only because of their point scoring capabilities but moreso because of their ability to get under the skin of the Penguins, especially Ovechkin. If he can succeed in getting the Penguins to play undisciplined hockey, which he's been known to do in the past, it could be a long series.
The key to the series for both teams, as always, will be special teams. The Capitals bring the second best power play in the NHL into this series against the Penguins' eighth best penalty kill. On the other hand, the Penguins will be bringing their 20th ranked power play against the Capitals' 17th ranked penalty kill. In other words, on paper, the special teams are somewhat evenly matched.
It's going to be a matter of who stays disciplined and doesn't take dumb penalties. Going in, the Caps have that edge since they were in the bottom ten in the league in penalty minutes. But that also means that they aren't likely to play the same physical style that gave the Pens some problems against the Flyers.
Even though the Capitals may have the edge on paper, how can you go against the Pens right now under Bylsma? No team in the East has them downright outmatched. Let's watch Bylsma go out there as the new official head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins and work his magic.