a blog by Iron Horse
A look at the surprisingly powerful Eastern Conference and how they look to fair into the NHL playoffs 2nd round.
So this is by far and away the best matchup of the 2nd round no questions about it. The Capitals are the NHL's Golden State, winning the President's trophy and basically peeing all over the rest of the NHL this year with their incredibly stacked roster and not to mention probably Vezina winning goalie. While the Penguins struggled early on to find their footing but with a resurgent 2nd half and with young star Connor Sheary coming into his own, and the trade deadline acquisition of Carl Hagelin this Penguins team can really fly with the best of them, and now they'll have to.
The Capitals showcased and interesting first round, after going up 3-0 on the Flyers, the Capitals looked to end the sweep but seemed a bit complacent heading into games 4 & 5. While heavily out-shooting the Flyers in both contests would end up losing both games and would have to capture the series back in game 6 to win their first round matchup with the Flyers who by all means snuck their way in as a playoff team this year. I worry about this Capitals team who has never even won a Stanley Cup in their existence as a franchise getting anywhere substantial because of this sort of "cruise control" mode they seemed to hit in those 2 losses to Philadelphia. While the Flyers are a good team, they are no Pittsburgh, and to beat the Penguins in a 7 game series they are going to have to give their all, in every game this series, Holtby will have to be excellent along with their blue lines.
As for the Penguins I honestly don't really see the bright side from their perspective, I think if they're going to stand a chance to win this series. They're going to have to come out and steal a game right away, meaning one of these first 2. (The first of which is tonight @ 8:00 EST on NBSCN). The only thing I can think that they have going for them in this series is the speed, which Washington certainly doesn't lack, but also the experience. A lot of the core members of this team still remain from their Stanley Cup run in 2009, including they're marquis players, Malkin and Crosby to their goalie Marc Andre-Fluery.
In either case I still have the Caps in 5 here, I think they're just too good and that Fleury still chokes in the playoffs.
Capitals in 5
Another great match up here in the Eastern Conference, not as strong as the teams in the other series I would say, but nonetheless exciting to watch. The Lightning are looking to return to the Stanley Cup this year with their successors the Blackhawks already eliminated on the other side. Their future is a little dampened already though with their 5-3 loss to the Islanders last night, the Islanders are beginning to show they are a force to be reckoned with, and that they belong this deep in the playoffs.
The Lightning gave a strong run against the Chicago Blackhawks last year but alas the Blackhawks deep roster and playoff experience led them to win the cup against the Lightning's red hot play and young strong lines. The Lightning have been a strong team for a number of years now reaching the Eastern Conference Finals 2 times in the last 5 years. Once producing a Stanley Cup Final berth, and the other losing in 7 games to the Boston Bruins. The Tampa Bay Lightning have leaned heavily on the goal tending of Ben Bishop as well as the strong play of their best line front offensive line, led by the strong play of Nikita Kucherov who notched 7 points (4G 3A) in the first round in just 5 games.
Look for the Islanders to make a splash in this round. I love this Islanders team and as a Boston boy it is hard to admit you like a New York team. But fuck it I love this Islanders team, and what's not to love right now. They've got a little bit of Boston on their blue line in Johnny "ROCKET" Boychuk. They play smart and are led by their Captain John Tavares who has been nothing short of spectacular for them, scoring 9 points (5G 4A) in their 6 game 2 double overtime series against the Panthers. Also netting the series clincher in the 2nd OT of Game 6 at home. I will look to the goaltender Thomas Greiss to be the X factor in this series as he has done a tremendous job in the playoffs to this point to the surprise of many.
I will look for the Islanders to take this on the back of their captain and strong net minding.
Islanders in 6
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