Ovechkin Wins Round One; Luongo Can’t Carry Weight Himself
May 3, 2009 by Big Tony
Round 1 of Crosby versus Ovechkin goes to Ovie as the Washington Capitals outlasted the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 Saturday at Verizon Center. Based on the flow of the game this should be a pretty long series that goes back and forth. The difference in the game (aside from an incredible save by Simeon Varlamov) was Washington’s stellar power play outdueling a “headscratchingly” bad power play for the Pittsburgh Penguins. If the Penguins want to win the series they have to get their power play to at least be mediocre. Right now they have an enormous amount of talent on their power play unit but they are wasting it by setting it up poorly. Set up two power play lines that splits up Malkin and Crosby and better utilizes Kunitz and Guerin so that there is a line with say Crosby and Guerin and another line with Kunitz and Malkin. Splitting up the time certainly can’t hurt nor could making any change to it really because it hasn’t worked. The Penguins are really only one power play goal per game away from being a completely unstoppable team offensively. The Capitals on the other hand just have to keep doing what they’ve been doing. Keep dominating on their power play while playing fairly strong at even strength. Their speed and skill cannot be stopped with the man advantage (let alone a two-man advantage) so as long as they have that going and Varlamov holds up they are going to win the series. Another luxury the Caps have right now is being able to be aggressive without fearing being penalized. It isn’t that the refs aren’t calling penalties on them it’s just that the Penguins are not making Washington pay for their mistakes. Bottom line, if Pittsburgh’s power play gets going they win the series, if it continues the tract it is on now Washington will win no matter what else happens.
Out West, the Chicago Blackhawks made another comeback against the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night erasing Vancouver’s early two goal lead. Only this time the Hawks were able to make the comeback stick and went on to defeat the Canucks 6-3 tying their series at one heading to Chicago. Saturday’s loss was the first for Vancouver in these playoffs and won’t be their last as they are on a collision course with elimination. Sure they have been able to get off to a quick start the first two games—barely hanging on to win game one—but Vancouver relies way too much on Luongo to bail them out on a nightly basis. Relying on Luongo worked well enough in the first series against a more inferior opponent but it will not work against Chicago. Vancouver needs to get a whole lot more from their big guns if they want to survive. If Roberto Luongo has to be Vancouver’s best player for them to win they will be eliminated before the end of this round.