Thursday, April 30, 2009
A Late Preview to Penguins / Capitals
So I missed posting this before game 1 yesterday. My bad. With that in min, here's an abbreviated post on a preview that's already 1-0 Craps.
On paper I would give this to the Penguins but there's a slight caveat to this. The Washington forwards continuously have played better against the Penguins. Whether it be schmucks like Chris Clark, Brooks Laich or David Steckel, one of the 3rd or 4th liners always seem to score a huge goal against the Penguins. Once these guys score than you are behind the old 8 ball because no matter how much you try to Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom, they will get their points. They never come out flat in the past two seasons. The Penguins still only rely on Crosby and Malkin. The wingers for the Penguins have been horrendous and unless Jordan Staal and the 3rd line become factors again, this could be a quick series. Petr Sykora and Ruslan Fedotenko have been worthless for Evgeni Malkin.
The Caps have a good young defensive core. Mike Green gets all the headlines but is atrocious in his own end. Ditto Shaone Morrison. Tom Poti has played well this season but is still prone to the dreaded brainfartitis, Milan Jurcina and Erskine are solid in their own end but won't provide much in the offensive zone. Caps get a big boost with the return of Brian Pothier. Penguins have Gonchar and Letang for offense and Eaton, Gill, Scuderi and Orpik for defense. Mark Eaton has scored 3 goals in the playoffs already and has been big in both ends of the ice.
I like Pittsburgh here overall.
Simeon Varlamov was the story of game 1 and is the key to the Capitals success this series. He isn't a world beater yet but he is young and has some clutch built in him. Far different than Jose Theodore. He is prone to the horrendous goal but so is his counterpart, Marc Andre Fleury. Fleury has been clutch when needed but still has poor rebound control after 6 years in the league. He still has the athleticism to curb some of those but he needs to bottle up the rebounds. Fleury has struggled against Washington in his career but I still give him the edge in experience.
As stated above, the Caps gear up for the Penguins more so than the Penguins gear up for the Capitals. I have no scientific basis for this or any stats that back this up. Their were stretches against the Rangers, where if the Caps played like that, the Pens would blow them out of the water. Even at game 1, the Penguins dominated for the first 10 minutes but still found themselves down at the end of the 1st. Penguins also need to steal a game in Washington were the Caps are much better.
Washington in 6