Well, we’re here again. Caps vs Pens, again. Ovi vs Crosby, again. The series will kick off Thursday in DC, with the winner of the best of 7 set to face the winner of the Senators vs Rangers in the ECF. Because of the dumb new playoff system, this will be the second straight year the two best teams in the East will face off in the 2nd round rather than the chance to win the Cup. I’m a big fan of reseeding, it makes the regular season much more important, but the NHL chose to get away from that so it is what it is.
Does history matter when it comes to the playoffs? Probably not as much as people like to believe, but it still looms. The Penguins are 8-1 all time vs the Caps in playoff series. 8-1!!! Not great! But does what happened in 1995 really matter today? Of course not. More concerning is how much faster the Pens were than the Caps when they beat them in 6 last year. Need to find a way to adjust to that, just like they did in the Leafs series.
The Caps got a break not starting the series until Thursday, giving them plenty of recovery time after playing 5 OT games vs Toronto. They will face a very well rested Penguins club, albeit a club playing without Kris Letang who had neck surgery, Matt Murray who has yet to skate since suffering an injury during game 1 warmups, and Carl Hagelin who nobody seems to know if he will play or not.
Winning the series (and not playing 100 more OTs) and getting the 10,000 pound gorilla off their back on the way to the ECF would be huge for the team. I’m convinced they can beat the Rags or Sens, but obviously the Pens are going to be the biggest test. Thursday can’t come soon enough.