Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quick thoughts on the Pens vs. the Caps

When the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals face off everyone knows that it will be an offensive battle and last nights game two lived up to that billing. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alexander Ovechkin are two of the best young players in the game and both recorded their first playoff hat trick in last nights match-up. Unfortunately for the Penguins the only other skater to put one in the net was Washington's David Steckel. Behind Ovechkin and Steckel the Capitals went up 2-0 in the series as it heads to Pittsburgh. Neither the opposing defensive men or goalies had an answer when Crosby or Ovechkin had the puck. Ovechkin scored on three of his 12 shots on goal and Crosby managed his three goals in five tries. 

Though much of the hype of the game will deservedly surround Ovechkin and Crosby, there is another player who had just as good of a performance. Simeon Varlamov, the Capitals 21-year old rookie backup goalie deserves much of credit for the Capitals win last night. Though he didn't have an answer for Crosby he was a perfect 31 for 31 in save opportunities against Pittsburgh's other skaters. In the first two periods there were multiple chances for the Pens to blow the game wide open and Varlamov held firm. He kept the Capitals in the game until Ovechkin could take over in the third period. Varlamov's performance in these playoffs has been nothing short of spectacular. Varlamov has now played in more games this postseason (8) than he did during the regular season (6).  During this post season run, which only started because the Capitals starter Jose Theodore was ineffective against the Rangers, Varlamov is 6-2 with a .945 Sav%. As much as Ovechkin is the Capitals star, Varlamov is the reason they are up 2-0 in the Conference Semifinals.

With last night's win the Capitals became the only team in the 2nd round to take advantage of their home ice and go up 2-0. Now the Capitals are firmly in the driver's seat of the series and the momentum is with them as they head to Pittsburgh. The Penguins will have to play flawlessly these next two games to have any hope of advancing to the Conference finals. 

1 comment:

  1. Thats more like it Steve, glad to see you are coming around. Here's hoping the Caps don't blow this 2-0 lead to the Pens like they have in the past.