Admit it, when you saw that the Capitals lost both games in Washington, D.C. to start the series against the Blue Jackets, you thought it was over, right? You rolled your eyes and said ‘they blew it again?’ to yourself. You felt bad for Alex Ovechkin and labeled Holtby a non-playoff performer. You were already wondering where coach Barry Trotz would end up next season.
2018 NHL Washington Capitals Playoff Advice
But it didn’t happen. Something magical did. The Capitals stormed back and won four straight games, wiping out Columbus in a seven-day span that might have altered the course of these playoffs.
Traditionally, Sidney Crosby and the Pens have owned the Caps in the postseason. But this time it’s different. The Capitals might be more battled-tested. They have less expectations on them. And they’re getting production from multiple lines now. Hmm, could they FINALLY reach the Eastern Conference Final in the Ovechkin era? Currently, the Washington Capitals have NHL betting odds at 13 to 2 to win the Stanley Cup.
The Penguins are good, damn good. And they have a healthy Kris Letang on defense this season. But the Capitals have a secret weapon – John Carlson on a free agent year! The American blue liner has an astounding nine points in six games so far this season. I don’t think anyone saw that coming. Indeed, he’ll cash in richly, whatever the outcome of this series.
So, what do I think? Well, I believe that the Caps can actually do it this year. Holtby is playing with a chip on his shoulder after being benched last round for Game 1. Ovechkin isn’t getting any younger and has got to be sick of Crosby’s wins at this point. Backstrom is actually stepping up and performing in the spotlight. In short, those who need to perform are performing. Plus, the Caps also have home ice advantage.
Yes, I think they can win this series. But they won’t. The Penguins are simply too good. Their core is better than Washington’s core. Plain and simple. And while Malkin might start this series on the sidelines due to injury, Pittsburgh will still be playing in a league of their own.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He’s also a contributor to ESPN 101.3 Plattsburgh/Burlington. Follow him @MatthewWords.