Washington Capitals Road
General Manager Brian MacLellan has stated repeatedly that this is the second year of a two-year Cup window for the Capitals. After dominating the regular season last year and winning the Presidents Trophy, the Pittsburgh Penguins knocked out the Caps in the second round. This year, with the additions of Lars Eller, Brett Connolly, and Kevin Shattenkirk, the Caps again are the Presidents Trophy winners and are hoping for different results in this year Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Toronto Maple Leafs Road
After winning the 2017 draft lottery, the Maple Leafs selected Auston Matthews and have not looked back ever since. The Leafs are starting numerous rookies who could vie for the Calder Trophy, including William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews. With solid goaltending from Fredrik Andersen and a bolstered defense thanks to Nikita Zaitsev, the young Leafs are looking to prove their critics wrong and make a deep playoff run.
Washington X Factor
This is Alex Ovechkin’s favorite time of the year, and with good reason. While his current season might seem abnormal in terms of production, he has ramped up his shots on goal and is looking to bury everyone en route to a Stanley Cup victory. If Wayne Gretzky is telling the media that he would love to see Ovie win a cup, believe him.
Wayne Gretzky on Alex Ovechkin: 'I love that he wants to win a Stanley Cup' https://t.co/JDacqlWGFI— CSN Capitals (@CSNCapitals) February 25, 2017
Toronto X Factor
Toronto does not have one singular player that needs to perform well. Rather, their entire defensive corps needs to step it up. Toronto can put points on the board and bury teams, but have been known throughout the season to give them up in the third period. If the Leafs can play solid defense for a whole series without a breakdown, this team could be very dangerous.
How Washington Will Win
Washington has been consistently ranked in the top all year in terms of power play, penalty kill, team defense, goaltending, and scoring. However, they have been known to get into penalty trouble occasionally. Additionally, based on last year’s series with the Penguins, speed has been an issue. However, they have stayed with the speedy teams this season pretty well. Furthermore, if Washington can stay out of the box, and the referees put their whistles away, the Caps can pull off a series win.
How Toronto Will Win
Toronto’s offense is incredibly potent. Even though it is stacked with rookies, their speed and talent alone have won games and dragged their defense along with them. If a series gets turned into a high scoring track meet, Toronto’s young legs and goal scoring capabilities should worry the Caps and bring back shades of the Penguins series from last year.
Who Should Win
Based on season play and home ice advantage, Washington should come away with a win in 5 or 6 games. Toronto is too green, and their inability to consistently play defense will cost them the series, but they will make some noise against the Caps and steal a game or two. Consistency is key, and Washington has been consistently dominant this year. Time to prove it when it counts.
Alzner said Caps want to be like UNC basketball, the redeem team.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 10, 2017
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