Caps Outsider Roundtable: Caps vs. Penguins Predictions

Posted April 26, 2017

(Caps Outsider)

Ben Sumner

The champaign from the Stanley Cup just wouldn’t taste as good if it weren’t spiked with Penguin blood, so the Caps needing to get past the second-ranked team in the league, whether in the second or third round, will only make the championship even sweeter.

We already know what’s likely to happen. The Caps and Pens will each win a game in D.C. with at least one going into overtime. The Penguins will win Game 3 in front of their home crowd, and the Caps will scratch and claw their way to victory in Game 4. Back in Washington, the Caps will prevail again, probably in overtime, then Pittsburgh will take Game 6, setting up an epic Game 7 in D.C.

And here is where we flip a coin, because too often, that’s how the Hockey Gods decide these games. The coin will spin on an edge, fall off, and for the first time in more than two decades, it’ll land Caps up.

Caps in 7

Brad Davis

The Toronto series shaped up just as I expected, as the Leafs gave the Capitals more trouble than many people thought they would. However, that series could benefit the Capitals in the long run, as the Penguins play a similar style and Washington surely learned a lot from the first round series. Pittsburgh has also had a ton of injuries, but guys like Jake Guentzel and Justin Schultz have really helped pick up the slack. It will be really important for the Capitals to impose their will from the opening puck drop of Game One to keep the Pens chasing and put more pressure on an already depleted roster.

Caps in 6

Anthony Murphy

This is the best team of the ‘Rock the Red’ era, giving the Caps the best chance to finally knock off the Penguins in a playoff series. Unfortunately, despite missing three key players right now, this is also one of the best Penguins teams, even better than the two Cup winning teams. Even without Matt Murray, Kris Letang, and Carl Hagelin, the Pens dispatched a good Blue Jacket team in just five games. The defensive group doesn’t have their stud in Letang but are deeper than they were last season, and they finally found two rising stars to play with Sidney Crosby in Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel. If Murray remains out, and the Capitals can rattle Marc-Andre Fleury early they have a great shot at winning this series. If not, the speed and depth of the Penguins will eventually wear out the Caps as it did a year ago, and produce the same result.

Pens in 7

Max Wolpoff

I keep waffling back-and-forth on who wins this series. In the four matchups this year, Pittsburgh won twice: in a shootout, and that super stupid 8-7 game in 3-on-3 overtime. Neither of those formats exist in the playoffs. Last they met was two months before the trade deadline, where Pittsburgh was fairly quiet while Washington got Kevin Shattenkirk.

The Maple Leafs exposed one key weakness with Washington: faceoffs. All four Caps centers finished under 50 percent for the series, with Lars Eller at 39.5 percent.

The Matt Murray conundrum persists, top-defenders Kris Letang and Olli Maatta are still injured (Maatta’s diagnosed recovery was six weeks, ten weeks ago), and still Columbus was not in a fair fight from the start. They seem to have two replacements for each injury (exhibit A: Jake Guentzel). I hope my optimism doesn’t burn me again.

Caps in 7

Brandon Alter

Caps Penguins part 2. Last year was a tough one to swallow. This Caps team is better than last year’s without a question. The Penguins are also a little better but riddled with injuries. The Caps need to take advantage of the depleted Penguins, but they are still deadly.

A lot will be made about how much “rest” the Penguins have had. They really haven’t had that much as they only played 1 more game than the Caps (excluding overtimes). It will be interesting to see if the Penguins are a tad rusty. The series will be decided by depth without a doubt. Hopefully the Caps will get the lucky bounces this series and improve on the draw.

Caps in 7

Dylan Volpella

After a longer than anticipated match against Toronto, the Caps are going to want to come out right away and establish dominance against the Penguins. Letting the Pens get the upper hand could cost them the series, but after the short rest between series 1 and 2, the Caps should be able to find their footing and come away with the series in 5 or 6 games.