Written by The Burgh Blog writer: Austin Tocco
4 wins down, 12 to go. That is the mindset of every Penguin fan, but a familiar foe lies in the path of the Eastern Conference finals and will be sure to give the Penguins a run for their money. After eliminating the New York Rangers in 5 games, the Penguins sat comfortably on their couches and watched the Washington Capitals take care of business against the Philadelphia Flyers today at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. It took Washington 6 games to eliminate their rival Flyers. Now, both the Penguins and Capitals await the 2nd round match-up that every hockey fan cannot wait to see.
I was not impressed with the Capitals performance against the Broad Street Bullies. Often times catching themselves taking bad penalties due to Flyer pressure and giving the Flyers ample opportunities to score and gain momentum. The players that normally dominate the offensive game were average at best. Players like Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J Oshie, and Andre Burakovsky who have dictated the games during the regular season with their explosive offensive skills have been non-existent. Of course, the great 8, Alexander Ovechkin has been performing as advertised, but when doesn’t he? The sport of hockey is a team game, Ovechkin can only do so much. The Capitals this post-season have been led by the play of Nicklas Backstrom, and the stellar goaltending of Braden Holtby. Holtby posted a .84 GAA, a save percentage of .968, and collected 2 shutouts. The Flyers truly gave the President’s Trophy winner (top point team in the regular season) a run for their money and made the Capitals extremely uncomfortable with their physical play. It will be no walk through the park for the Penguins, however, I truly believe the Penguins have the Capitals right where they want them.
This is a match-up that draws much attention due to the magnitude at stake between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Both Ovechkin and Crosby are considered 2 of the best players in the world. It is crazy to think that these stellar hockey players have only met once in the Stanley Cup playoffs (2009). Every Penguins fan remembers that memorable series. Ovechkin and Crosby dominated the entire series from the opening face-off of game 1. Also, everyone remembers the dueling hat-tricks that they had in game 2. Both of these players are the faces of the NHL and what make this game so amazing. Everyone, including the NHL want this match-up every single year.
Both players play different styles, however, both are equally successful, well in the regular season. Crosby has the ultimate upper hand with the Stanley Cup banner he rose in the Steel City in 2009. Ovechkin might have the upper hand in personal achievements, but it’s the group achievement that makes you a legend. Ovechkin is known for his explosiveness and ability to score a goal on any given night. Not known for his defensive play or setting another player up, but has the ability to absolutely destroy a player along the boards or score a key goal. Crosby is much more conservative, scores goals here and there, but sets people up to score a goal and plays a 200ft game throughout the entire game. Crosby has the edge against Ovechkin with a ring, but will Ovechkin regain momentum with a series victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins?
This is the ultimate series, both teams are taking their level of play to a new stratosphere. The Penguins won the season series against the Capitals 3-2, and look to use that as a stepping stone while going into Verizon Center for game 1 later this week. This will be the best series of round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs and will be full of goals, hits, and a loss of emotions. This is what we live for, playoff hockey, and the series between the Penguins and Capitals will not disappoint.
The date and times have yet to be determined, but expect the dates to be set by Thursday at the latest.
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