In predictable fashion, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals find themselves in a close playoff battle. After a 3-1 win for the Pens in Game 4, the series is tied up at 2 games a piece. The Capitals came close to taking a stranglehold on the series, but the Penguins, like they’ve done against the Caps in the past, came through in crunch time.
There’s been a couple of Game 7’s and a Game 6 in the Ovechkin, all of the series wins going to the Pens. We’re at least going to a Game 6 again, with the possibility of a Game 7 lurking in the future. I’m all for Game 7’s, and another edition between the Penguins and Capitals would be fun. Despite the favourable results for the Penguins, a lot of these series could have gone either way. In any event, winning the close games are part of being a great team, and that is what the Penguins have been able to accomplish, time and time again, over Washington.
Alexander Ovechkin may want this more than anyone else. Crosby has beaten him to the punch on the professional and international level. Is it finally the year that Ovi overcomes years of frustration against Crosby and the Pens? He has to win two more games and do it against a team who have had their number in the postseason.
Capitals’ fans certainly don’t me to rehash the history. But I will just say the last time the Caps beat the Penguins in a playoff series we have to go back to 1994. In fact, this is the only time, in ten postseason meetings, that the Capitals have defeated the Pens in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Okay, back to the future, where the Caps hope the best way to predict the future is by looking back at history. Head below for our free Penguins vs. Capitals Game 5 pick.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals Game 5 Pick
Matt Murray has been spotty this season, but he’s largely come up big in the playoffs in the previous years they needed him in spots like this. We don’t have a massive sample size for us to go by, like say Marc-Andre Fleury, but he’s come up big when counted on. He was thrown into the fire as a youngster and handled it especially well.
That was the case in Game 5, as he turned back 20 shots to hold the Capitals to the lone T.J. Oshie power-play goal. Most of the credit should go to the Penguin defence, though, who stepped it up to help Murray out immensely. The Penguins had the help of the home crowd to propel them there, but they’ll have to deal with a good home team in Washington for Game 5.
The Capitals are 30-12-4 at home, including the playoffs. The Capitals lost Game 1 and 2 against the Blue Jackets at home in the first-round. However, the Capitals outshot the Jackets by a wide margin of 88-57 in those two games. Goaltending was a question mark, with Philipp Grubauer failing to seize a huge opportunity in his career, but Braden Holtby has since taken back his starting job and playing better hockey between the pipes.
Perhaps more than ever, the Penguins and Capitals are even. The margin of error in these games is razor thin. Including the regular season and playoffs, the Pens own a very pedestrian record of 21-21-2 on the road. I have to give the edge to the Capitals in Game 5. The odds makers are giving virtually toss-up odds. Given the history of the Caps against the Penguins in pressure games, they are not giving them the benefit of the doubt in Game 5. How much longer can they continue to completely shat the bed against the Pens in these kinds of games, though?
Even then, it would sound more like the Capitals if they win tonight, and then choke in Game 6 and 7. Washington knows this game is bigger for them. I still have confidence in the Penguins to win the series if they lose tonight, the Capitals, however? I can’t say the same. The Caps take Game 5, in what I feel is a must-win, and then we’ll see who handles the pressure better in the next game or two.