Caps Outsider Roundtable: Caps-Flyers Predictions

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Posted April 13, 2016

(Caps Outsider)

The Caps Outsider staff weighs in on who they think will win between the Caps and the Flyers, and in how many games.

Chase Pyke:

The Capitals enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the betting favorites, and deservedly so. The team won a franchise record 56 games en route to the Presidents’ Trophy, boasted a league best +59 goal differential and are completely healthy *knocks on wooden desk*, unlike other contenders in the Eastern Conference. How they handle the larger-than-ever expectations that come with being labeled favorites is a different story.

In the Ovechkin Era, the Caps have played in 11 playoff series, with only two lasting less than seven games. The Caps have struggled to put away lower-seeded teams quickly in the past but appear to finally have the depth, defense and goaltending to go the distance. It won’t be easy, as they meet a Flyers team that went 16-6-3 to close out the regular season.

This series should be physical and fun, but if you think the Caps are going to let it go seven, you’re wrong. Don’t you know this Caps team is different?

Caps in six.

Max Wolpoff:

I’m worried. That’s the short of it.

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have been the two best teams in the NHL since mid-March. Steve Mason is playing some of the best hockey of his career, never mind this season. Shayne Gostisbehere is the rookie’s Norris winner, Claude Giroux is finally scoring goals, and Wayne Simmonds looks like what Tom Wilson wanted to be when he came into the league: a big and bruising guy who can score 30 goals a season. The Flyers also now have Ed Snider to play for, as if they didn’t have enough motivation beforehand.

As for Washington, they’ve been in coast mode for the last month. It was good to see Ovechkin, Backstrom, Orpik (he needed it), Carlson (ditto), and Holtby (double ditto) some rest on a meaningless game against Anaheim. As for the rest of the team, Orlov is still re-learning the game and keeps making crucial mistakes. The Caps are deep defensively and have plenty of options (Weber, Schmidt, Chorney, numerous call-up eligible guys) should they wish to use them. Kuznetsov may be the team’s leading scorer, but his production has slipped from a season high of 16 (January) to 13 (March and April combined); teams may have solved him.

I anticipate pain at the end of this playoff run. My three worst-case scenarios are all more than possible: Flyers upset in round one, Penguins again, and Rangers yet again (insert scream here). I see pain as inevitable; I don’t know if this is how I want it.

Caps in seven.

Jacob Weinberger:

Despite the Washington Capitals running away with the President’s Trophy, the team has not played a meaningful game in a long time. The Philadelphia Flyers have been playing playoff hockey for over a month and are succeeding at it. That being said, the Capitals are the better team in all four aspects: goaltending, offense, defense and special teams.

Nevertheless, if the Caps think they can breeze through this series, they’re in for a rude awakening. It’ll be a series similar to last year’s first round matchup with the Islanders, with gritty, hard-nosed, down-to-the-wire games defining the series. In the end, the Capitals’ top-four power play and penalty kill will prove to be the difference.

Caps in seven.

Tommy Chalk:

Over the course of the last couple of months, it’s tough to find a team that has been hotter than the Flyers. In January, this team was sitting with the fourth-lowest point total in the Eastern Conference. Two months later, they were not just in the heart of the second Wild Card spot, they were leading the list of late-season pushers.

But in crunch time, the Flyers began to slow down, and the team began to rely on the downfall of others. Steve Mason’s save percentage began to dip, the defense began to revert to it’s lapses of December and November, and the offensive contributions just wasn’t enough.

Philadelphia may believe they have some sort of upper hand because of their last few months, but on paper, they simply can’t match the depth of Washington. I’m predicting a physical series, as that’s how the Flyers will try to level the playing field, but as long as the Capitals continue to play their game, they should be in good shape.

Caps in six.

Andy Wallace:

Both the Flyers and the Capitals have been trending upward towards the end of the season so it should be a good series. Ultimately I think the Caps take the series 4-2 on the back of solid play from Holtby and primary offensive production from our middle six.

Caps in six.

Brandon Alter:

I believe the Caps and Flyers will play a very tight series. I think the Caps will try and make the Flyers play a tough style to try and neutralize the Flyers speed and explosiveness. I believe the series will have at least one overtime game. I am calling the Caps will win this series in 6 games. Justin Williams may not have a lot of points, but he will have an enormous part in this series based on his experience and his intelligence. The Caps second line of Burakovsky-Kuznetsov-Williams will be the “x factor” in this series.

Caps in six.

Philip Van der Vossen:

The Capitals are the best team in the league, and if they want to win the Cup, they need to stop going to Game 7 in every series. There is no reason they can’t dominate the Flyers in four straight games, but I’ll give Philly one just because I’m supposed to cover Game 5 and a series clincher always makes for a good atmosphere in the post-game locker room.

Caps in five.

Ben Sumner:

The Capitals have been waiting all season for this and are plenty ready to throat-stomp teams en route to the Finals. Forget the soft-spots they’ve shown in the past month, those games barely counted. If this is the team they think they are and they’ve shown they can be, prepare for a blood-bath of hard hits and Ovi goals out of nowhere. The Flyers won’t only lose, they’ll be embarrassed.

Caps in four.