Possible Second Round Opponents

The Caps have been playing the waiting game since Saturday after they took down the Rangers in five games in the first round. The only other team in the Eastern Conference to move on was the Philadelphia Flyers who eliminated the Buffalo Sabres in seven games yesterday. That leaves three possible opponents for the Caps to face in the next round; Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Montreal. The Caps have a winning record in regular season matchups between all three teams but the playoffs are a different game so let’s look into see who the lesser of three evils is:

Team      FENWICK   CORSI     S/G    SA/G    SV%   PPSF/60  PKSA/ 60
T.B.                  .522             .508         31.8     28.7    .928        50.0            46.0
PIT                   .543             .538         31.5     28.7    .929        47.5            44.3
MTL                 .525             .517         31.7     31.0    .921         53.6            48.5

Going by this, it seems that it doesn’t matter who the Caps play next since all three of these teams have similar even strength numbers. Pittsburgh being slightly better at controlling even strength play than the other two. Time On Ice is having trouble with showing Fenwick and Corsi data for the playoffs so I can’t use those to compare the teams but judging by shot data, Pittsburgh’s been creating the most offense while Tampa is producing the least and giving up the most shots. Montreal is in the middle with a -4.2 shot differential.

So which of these teams would you want to play the most if you’re a Caps fan? What about the least? My answer is that I don’t have much of a preference since we have our advantages and disadvantages against them. We won four games against Tampa and three games against both Pittsburgh and Montreal. All three have goalies who can steal games or completely flop, though Price has been the most impressive of all of them. Montreal’s penalty kill has also held the B’s powerplay to zero goals (with the 2nd least attempts in the playoffs) so that’s something to keep in mind. Tampa’s offense was shut down by Pittsburgh for the first four games but they have woken up in the last two now and that’s a forward corps which no one wants to face when they are on.

If the Caps play like they did against New York, then they should be able to beat any of these three teams. I don’t mean that in a cocky way but Tampa’s defense corps is surrendering a ton of shots against a team missing their top 2 centers, we should play fine against the Pens if Neuvirth is sharp and it will take a Halak-like performance from Price for Montreal to win. There are tons of things that can go wrong but as it stands right now, I don’t have a preference for who we face as long as Washington kicks some ass and moves on to the conference finals. I think Montreal might actually be the scariest to face since I can see a lot of things going wrong against them. Or maybe the Bruins just aren’t as good as I perceived?

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