Alain has always used a high risk strategy that relies on stretch passes and one&done exits out of their d-zone. The Rags struggle to work the puck out of their zone, been that way since he got there. This is part of the reason why Brady Skjei has been such a revelation for them — his ability to easily exit his zone has been a weight off the shoulders of guys like Girardi and McDonaugh.
<div>And good thing for them that Julien doesn’t use a high pressure forecheck — he likes to sit back in a deeper 1-2-2 then try and regain the puck in the Neutral Zone rather than in the opponents’ zone. Lots of these games this season’s Playoffs are going to be won and lost in the NZ. And surely if the Rags can effectively break out of their zone on the regular, like they were doing at the beginning of the season when they were scorching hot, then they have the potential to control the entire series.</div>
<div>Guys like Paul Byron & Brendan Gallagher (the forward 1’s on the forecheck) will be super huge for the Habs. Their speed & relentless attitude can put the Rangers Defense under some serious pressure, which goes someway to negating NYR’s speed, esp. in the 3rd P.</div>
The matchup everyone’s been waiting for all season is finally here.
This is the Stanley Cup Final, in reality.
Pittsburgh has beaten Washington in six straight playoff series and if Alex Ovechkin wants to ever beat Sidney Crosby in the playoffs, this is the year he has to do it.
The road team is 0-8 SU in the last 8 games in this matchup.
Marc-Andre Fleury had an .884 save percentage and 4.02 GAA against the Caps in the regular season.
The Capitals are 22-4 SU in their last 26 games as home favorites.
Pittsburgh is averaging an NHL-high 4.2 goals per game in the 2017 postseason.
Bookmakers opened the Capitals as significant home faves in Game 1 and considering the trends, that makes sense. The home team has dominated this matchup of late and Washington was the premier home club in the NHL in the regular season, going 32-9 SU at the Verizon Center.
Some may look at Marc-Andre Fleury’s .933 save percentage in the first round and think that he’s back to being a reliable goaltender but that’s simply not the case. The Flower gave up too many goals on low-danger scoring chances against the Jackets and when you go from facing the likes of Brandon Dubinsky and Brandon Saad to Alexander Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie, the chances of conceding goals quickly escalates.
If the Pens are going to stick around in this series while Matt Murray heals up, they’ll have to score a ton of goals to make up for what they lack at the back end.