Thursday, April 15, 2010

Caps vs. Canadiens: Five Bold Predictions

Perhaps not all of these are bold predictions, but a lot of them are baseless! So I'll format them in bold just in case the distinction isn't clear.

1. The Caps PK unit will surprise you - in a good way.

Second best PP at 21.8% versus 25th ranked PK at 78.8%. Allowing 5 PP goals in 14 opportunities in head to head matchups with the Canadiens on the year. Mismatch, you say? On paper, yes. But something tells me the Caps PK unit will buckle down. It has to. Bruce Boudreau will make the adjustments necessary to thwart the Habs' power play, which will most likely be missing the services of former Cap and PP specialist Glen Metropolit for the entire series, out with a separated shoulder. Jose Theodore will be the Caps' best penalty killer, a little extra motivation not hurting his cause. Which brings me to my next point...

2. Semyon Varlamov will start at least one game.

Not because Theodore will struggle; rather, because Bruce Boudreau has stuck with a system all year, rotating his goalies in and out even during hot streaks, and that system led to 54 wins and a team record 121 points. If it ain't broke, why try to fix it? If I'm a betting man, Varlamov starts Game 3 in Montreal, the site of his NHL debut, a 2-1 Caps victory.

3. Eric Belanger will be a healthy scratch at some point.

He's currently slotted as the 3rd line center between Eric Fehr and Jason Chimera, a role he's well suited for. But Belanger never got into an offensive groove with the Caps, aside from his sweet goal in the last game of the season and a nice cross ice pass to Tomas Fleischman in OT against the Canes. Six points in 17 games while logging over 14 minutes of ice time is a massive underachievement for a guy like Belanger, even if the Caps offense does not necessarily need him to score. With Brendan Morrison likely on the bench for Game 1, Belanger is replaceable should he struggle.

4. The "other Alex" will be the most dominant player on the ice.

Alex Semin's career playoff numbers: 21 games played, 8 goals, 14 assists. The maddening inconsistencies we're accustomed to seeing from Sasha in the regular season usually dissipate in the postseason. As strange as it sounds, he almost seems to relish the physical play in the playoffs. It brings out the best in him because it focuses him. Alex Ovechkin will garner most of the attention, and rightfully so, but Alex Semin will quietly be the Caps best offensive player. Count on it.

5. John Carlson will play like a seasoned veteran.

He has been for quite some time. You'd suspect a rookie in his first playoff experience, especially one with only 22 NHL games to his credit, to make a few mistakes that you simply attribute to youth and nerves. Don't expect this from Carlson. He plays with maturity well beyond his years and is already one of the Caps' top four defensemen (if not higher), even if his minutes don't necessarily reflect this. Without any power play time, don't expect many points. What you should expect are crisp passes, solid defensive positioning, and physical play that make you scratch your head and say, "Why the hell is Tom Poti skating 6 more minutes per night than John Carlson?!" Oh, and maybe just one unbelievably clutch goal.

Bonus Prediction: Caps in 6.

Let's do this. Hanta yo.


  1. Game 1 gut reactions to these (other than well, fuck):

    1. Whoops, I forgot Tom Poti is FEATURED (!) on the Caps PK. Featured.

    2. Inconclusive. Theodore was awesome tonight. Neither one of the Habs' 3 goals were his fault.

    3. Not if he continues to win 18 of 21 faceoffs. Jebus.

    4. Semin was a little off, but not as much as you know who. He struggled to get his shot off early, but I guess that's the one backlash of his ridiculously deceptive release.

    5. Couldn't have been more right. Carlson was the man out there. He, Backstrom and Green. And nobody else.

  2. On No. 5, I think you're confusing Green and Chimera. 52 and 25, easy to do.

    Green was tentative; Chimera was, well, what's the opposite of tentative?

    If I'm giving three stars to the Caps tonight: 1) Theo 2) Chimera 3) Carlson

  3. Disagree. I thought Green played well. Maybe he didn't stand out offensively, but he made a number of good defensive plays (including that OT tripping non-call...).


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