There are a few core reasons Defeating the Curse came to life. Three out of the four professional sports teams in the Washington DC area are good. Above average. For the most part, free of any drama. Hell….all their uniforms and color schemes match. However…they all face one very big hurdle; The second round of playoffs. For the Capitals it has always been at the hand of the Penguins. 9 out of 10 post seasons were ended by the Penguins. More importantly during the Ovechkin era. Sidney Crosby is the Lex Luther to Ovechkin’s Superman. The thorn in his side. One of the core reasons we created this damn site.
I have nothing new to tell you all about this series. Unless you want to hear generic coaching jargon that we as fans tell ourselves and that commentators shove down our throats. However, since I need to make this a somewhat respectable post I’ll lay out the things everyone already knows:
1) The Capitals cannot lose games at home. Game 1 is THE must win game. It sets the tone for the series. We lost against the Blue Jackets this year….we also did it last year…against the Pens. The difference this year? We get to face a Penguins team that looks a little worn down from their last series (thank you Flyers) and are playing without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin (again, thank you Flyers).
2) Control the power play and the penalties. Look this game is going to be chippy from the start. These two teams hate each other. Add in the fact that its the second round, and the Capitals are going to be tested. We all saw in the first round how the pointless penalties hurt us. They’ll kill us against the Penguins. They are the best team in the NHL during a power play. The emotions must be kept in check. The two times we beat the Pens this year, we didn’t give them a chance to capitalize on a Power Play. That needs to carry over in Round 2.
3) Ovechkin (and all the play makers) need to score. The knock is Ovechkin is amazing during the regular season and disappears in the playoffs. So far this year he has shown up, at least in round 1. Ovi had 5 goals in the first round. Sidney had 6. Our starters played great and got their shots, the Pens took even more. They have a deep roster. That deep roster is VERY good at scoring. Crosby, Malkin and Kessel are amazing players. Guentzel during the playoffs is basically a sorcerer who wills shots into the goal. We cannot let up on our shots on goal and keep pressuring.
4) Holtby….Or Grubauer? Obviously you stick with Holtby for the start of this series. He is proven in the playoffs. He saved us in round 1. Against the Pens however…he struggles. That’s the team that started his slump. They are the ones who can play head games with him from last year. Grubauer came in against the Pens, with the Metro Division on the line and played an amazing game. Don’t be surprised that if Holtby sturggles, another switch comes from Trotz.
There you go…you all just read about the Capitals and none of your minds we’re blown. I said nothing that you didn’t already know. No special revelations were made. No keys to the game you didn’t already know. Win at home. Don’t make costly mistakes. Stars play like stars. Goalie stop puck. So what is the trick? How do you come into this series excited? How do you root your team on in a situation they’ve seen themselves in over and over and over again? I don’t have the answer. Nobody does. But damn it all if this isn’t gonna be one hell of a series and exciting to watch! May this finally be the year that Crosby forgets his skates and the Capitals beat the Pens!