Season Series: Tied 2-1-1
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In most years, to win the Stanley Cup, you must defeat the defending champion (Penguins), but that’s not the case this year. Yeah, their in the playoffs, and they could contend for the Cup but Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals have shown the rest of the league this year, if you want to win the Stanley Cup, you’ve got to travel through the capital of America. Speaking of Ovechkin, he scored his 50th in the last game of the season to record 50 goals in four of his five NHL seasons thus far. Of course he leads the team but one man can’t do it all and the rest of the Capitals have been built around the most interesting player to watch in the NHL. Nicolas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green show up the the rink every night and give Washington the ability to put up 5 or 6 goals when Ovechkin is thrown in the mix. Between Jose Theodore and Semyon Varlamov, whichever goalie is playing better hockey come playoff time with ultimately get the nod but in the playoffs, goaltending is of the utmost importance and having two goalies who you can pick between can be extremely valuable. The Caps are quite healthy and recently got Milan Jurcina back from a sports hernia. The Capitals do have solid defence to help out in their own end but Washington relies solely on their ability to score.
The Caps are quite healthy and recently got Milan Jurcina back from a sports hernia. The Capitals do have solid defence to help out in their own end but Washington relies solely on their ability to score and it scores on the stat-sheet. They are the only team in the NHL to top 300 goals (they finished the season with 318 goals) while the closest other teams both come from the West with Chigaco having 271 and Vancouver with 272. The Montreal Canadiens are simply no match for the Capitals and the Eastern Conference is not nearly as competitive as the Western Conference is. Ride the Caps through round one, and hope all plays out so at some point we get to see the Ovechkin-Crosby show.
The Montreal Canadiens or Canadiens de Montreal depending on where you are from, made a lot of changes in the off-season. They got rid of GM Bob Gainey, they parted ways with their most well known name in recent years Alexei Kovalev (who will miss the playoffs with the Sens) and picked up stars such as Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta from New Jersey as well as Michael Cammalleri from the Flames, while keeping young stars like Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn. It’s honestly hard to say if the Habs have improved or not from the off-season moves, in one sense they once again made the playoffs but didn’t improve on their 93 points they had last year (this year they finished with 89). They also downsized a lot and even though the ‘new NHL’ is a fast paced game that involves speed and skill and we’re seeing the ‘enforcer’ type player slowly becoming extinct, the Habs don’t have any players are skilled and big (i.e. Joe Thornton).
Only six of their fifteen forwards are taller than six feet… just something to consider. Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price have been good but Montreal fans will have to wait a few more years for their coming-out party. With their speed, the Canadiens put together some decent winning streaks over the season (two of four games, one of six games), but at the same time had just as many, if not more losing streaks and they came primarily before Montreal went on their big winning streaks. Some may not find that concerning as it would seem the Habs come back from disappointment swinging like animal, but unfortunately it’s do or die in the playoffs and if you put together two or three losses in a row… the only swinging the Habs will be doing is with their 9-iron’s on the golf course.