In one corner: the most points ever by a non-original six franchise. Two 100 point scorers, two 40 goal scorers, seven 20 goal scorers, all the most in the league. A starting goalie 20-0-3 with a .922 save percentage in the last three months, .967 in the third period. In the other: the fewest wins and points by a playoff team since 2003. Their likely goalie has one playoff start and has given up 11 goals in his last three starts. I really don’t see this as being much of a series.
I’ve been scouring the internet for counterpoints, some kind of inoculation for my confidence. Montreal and Washington went 2-1-1 against each other, 14-14 in head-to-head scoring, the Caps outshooting the Habs 138-111. Carey Price won both those games for Montreal and isn’t expected to start the series. Caps’ third string goalie Michal Neuvirth started two of those games, Alexander Semin missed two of them. The Montreal Gazette trumpets that Ovechkin was held to one goal and three assists in four games, not exactly statistically significant. And CTV.ca basically turns the Capitals being exciting into two reasons they will lose in an upset that would dwarf Anaheim over San Jose last year. Seriously – Edmonton was upset in the 80s and Umberger thinks the Caps will go out early, and that’s two of their three bullet points.
The Washington Post cites the unfamiliarity of Jaroslav Halak and the media spotlight of Montreal as negatives, along with the legitimate point that Montreal has the second ranked power play (Caps are first) going against Washington’s 25th ranked penalty kill. To that point I would like to counter that Montreal drew the fewest penalties in the league during the regular season. Montreal’s leading scorer Tomas Plekanec (seriously?) had four goals in four games against Washington this year, the same number of goals he has in the postseason in 21 games.
Upsets happen, and they’re far more common in the NHL than the NBA or NFL. But there’s no way Montreal wins this series. Hell, Hockey-Reference.com has already given it to Washington. In my opinion this is the best non-Detroit squad the league has seen in the last 15 years. Washington is at the top of everybody’s power rankings, and have been for the last two months. Puck Probabilities makes the Caps the prohibitive favorite. The Hockey News has Washington in four. I agree.
About the Author
Written by Ryan Cleaver
Ryan Cleaver was born in Björk’s house in Iceland and grew up on Easter Island, where his parents were giant stone heads. He has the ability to fire beams of tacos out of his hands and he can turn his legs into tigers. On Sundays, Ryan enjoys reading Family Circus and traveling through time. His favorite color is greenish-transparent and his favorite movie is the one you just watched.