Down and Out? Caps Hold Serve, Pens Must Rally
May 4, 2009 by Big Tony
The Capitals and Penguins have played a fairly even series so far. Both Crosby and Ovechkin recorded hat tricks Monday night and both goaltenders have made some incredible saves. The difference so far has basically been timing. The Penguins have taken the early lead in both games but the Capitals are answering quickly before Pittsburgh can extend the lead to get a reasonable chance at protecting it. The Capitals are also getting timely goals as they have taken the lead late in both contests. Timing is key point one, but key point two is Varlamov making the mistake of giving very little in goal. Varlamov has given up a soft goal here and there but has done it at a time when the Caps can battle back, whereas Fleury gave up two soft goals in a row to Ovechkin with under five minutes left to play in regulation. So how does Pittsburgh right the ship? Evgeni Malkin has to step up his game and get himself on the score sheet. Malkin was a difference maker all season long and into the playoffs which is part of what separates Pittsburgh from the rest of the competition. As a Hart trophy finalist, Malkin (along with the other wingers) has to make a discernible impact to take some of the pressure off of Crosby and Fleury. Washington on the other hand simply needs to keep doing what they’re doing: make the Penguins play for every penalty they take, keep Varlamov from getting caught up in the moment of the big stage he’s on, and keep getting timely goals to keep the morale of the Penguins low. Now the series moves back to Pittsburgh where the Penguins need to win both games if they want any chance of advancing. The time to rely on last year’s finals appearance is now, because upstart Washington can taste the Conference Finals.