Sunday, April 11, 2010

Caps first round playoff matchup

The Washington Capitals will play the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. The Habs won the season set 2-1-1.

Key matchups:

Markov on Ovechkin. Hal Gill used to be decent at being a shut down defenseman, but that was in the hook and hold era. Markov isn't anyone's shut down guy, but he's the best Montreal has, is a good skater, and an interesting twist is that he and Ovechkin are great friends off the ice. I wonder how this will play out. Advantage Ovechkin.

Schultz on Gionta. I hate to say it, but Schultz has become the Caps top shut down dman. That's a sad sight, as he is about as physical as a marshmallow. But he is a good skater for his size, and that's going to be key in this matchup. Gionta is slippery, but Schultz isn't going to throw any big hits anyway, so that doesn't matter. Schultz will have to remain in good positioning, keep Gionta to the outside, block some shots (Gionta averaged 3.92 shots per game), to give whoever's in goal a chance to win. Advantage Schultz.

Halak on Theo. I predict the Caps will start Theo, and Halak should be the Habs starting goalie. This goalie head to head matchup will be key, along with every playoff series, ever. We've seen how a goalie can steal the show (Cam Ward), and this series is no different. Even with all of the Caps firepower, if Halak shows up to compete, and Theo is soft, the Habs will have a strong chance to pull off this unlikeliest of upsets. Advantage Theo, for the simple fact that he's been there, and he's done that.

The Caps' firepower is too much. Sure, the defense is shaky, but they can skate, which is all you need against this small Habs team. No one is really going to plant themselves in front of the Caps net, so the Caps won't have to worry about another 8 goal embarrassment in this series. I really like the depth forwards the Caps have (who would expect that Brendan Morrison and Scott Walker would be third liners being rotated in and out of the line up?). I like the goaltending situation. People gave up on Theodore because he hasn't played like Roy for his whole career, but he's damn good and he has proven it this year.

Slick skating, and high scoring is all the Caps will need against this similarly built Habs team. The Caps are just better overall, and easily win this matchup. My prediction: Caps in 4.


  1. I can't believe you wrote that much to predict a sweep. Theo sucks, but Varly isn't ready for the job. GM GM did a great job gearing up at the deadline though, masked most weaknesses. Defense blows, and the Caps live/die by the PP. Their possession game is kinda sad against high effort teams.

    The Habs, however, don't match up at all to exploit the Caps weaknesses. I'll say Halak steals one, Caps win the series at home 4-1, with a goal differential under ten.

    If the refs call the playoffs Bettman style, I'm scratching all that, and going with the sweep, Caps +3 every night (+12 total).

  2. The refs have been pretty good as far as whistles being in their pockets during the playoffs. That is, provided no one on the ice tries to fight. Which is perfect for this series. Two squads that hate fighting aren't going to get many penalties.

    The Caps sweep either way. They're better even strength and they'll win a penalty marathon too.