The DCPSR Roundtable is a pretty popular item with readers. We produce another one for you, just before the Washington Capitals embark on the NHL playoffs. We asked 5 questions of particular Caps beat reporters and bloggers. Here are the questions we asked them. (Oh, and before we go any further, let me give a BIG shout out to those that participated. Thank you all from DC Pro Sports Report)
1. Predict the series between Washington and Montreal
2. Who is the one players that must step up for the Capitals outside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom?
3. What is the biggest Caps weakness?
4. Who is the toughest Eastern Conference rival?
5. Predict how far Caps will go and against who in the latest round
Without further ado, here are the repsonses.
5. Caps all the way - Chicago in the West.
1. 6 games
2. Jose Theodore
3. Penalty kill
5. Stanley Cup Finals winner over Vancouver
1. Caps in 5
2. Jose Theodore
3. At times the penalty kill and at times I see too many turnovers near our own net. Other than that there are not that many weaknesses.
4. It's hard not to say Pittsburgh given our history but I think the Caps are squarely better than the Pens this year. Right now I'd say New Jersey because over a 7 game series I see the Devils as the only true threat to shut, or at least slow our offense down. The acquisition of Ilya Kovalchuk was also a very big get for them.
5. I have the Caps winning the East but losing in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks in a very tight series that goes 6-7 games. I hope I am wrong.
1. Montreal is a solid team and shouldn't be taken lightly, but they've been really beat up this year and simply don't have the depth to hang with the Capitals. Washington in five.
2. Simply put - for the Capitals to do anything in the postseason, Jose Theodore needs to be one of their best performers.
3. Tom Poti on the penalty kill.
4. Most folks will automatically say Pittsburgh, but don't sleep on New Jersey. They played the Caps as tough as any opponent did this season.
5. I would love nothing more than to see the Capitals return to the finals, if for no other reason than to rightfully place this year's team in their proper context in franchise history.
1. Caps in five. Washington's not going to roll Montreal like some people think they are, but they're clearly the better team and they have a decent advantage is just about every aspect of the game.
2. Mike Green. He's the Caps ice time leader, he's their best defenseman, and he's an integral part of the powerplay. And after last season's playoff performance - both the perception and the reality - he needs a big playoffs.
3. Penalty kill, and it's not even close. The powerplay is awesome, the team dominates five-on-five, Theo's playing well, and, despite the line on the team all year, their defense is pretty good - except when they're down a man. Why a team that is good-to-dominant in every other facet of the game had the league's 25th best powerplay is beyond me, but it's their Achilles heel.
4. Pittsburgh. Until someone knocks them off, they're the team to beat in the East.
5. Nope. I'm a pretty grounded guy, but I'm not going to tempt the hockey gods with this one.
1. Our numbers guy, Neil Greenberg, says Caps in 5.
2. Either Eric Fehr (secondary scoring) or Tom Poti (sealing the gap in the D).
3. It's either the penalty kill or being TOO awesome.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins. Even though the Caps shut them out in the regular season, they're a terrific playoff team.
5. All the way. Vs. Chicago in finals. 6 games.
1. Capitals in 5 games. I have a feeling that the Habs will be able to take one of the contests North of the border, as the Bell Centre is one of the most intimidating locations to play in the NHL, and the Caps did not fare well there this season with both contests extending through regulation. Also, any mistake and Theodore will immediately be greeted by 21,273 fans un-happy to see him again.
2. Without a doubt the answer is Tomas Fleischmann. Although he set career-bests in goals, assists and points this season, he will need to be more reliable on the dot if he's to center the second line. In the last 5 games he played, Flash won 39% of his draws - not good enough when deuling Tomas Plekanec.
3. The Capitals biggest weakness are the penalties they draw at inopportune times. Although the Caps are in the top 3rd of the league in PIM/G, their penalty kill is currently ranked 25th (with only the Nashville Predators as the playoff team ranking lower). The postseason is no place for lazy pokechecks-turned-hooking minors, nor any offensive zone penalties.
4. While this seasons' Penguins are a near reincarnation of last seasons' Stanley Cup winning team, I feel that the Devils' (if faced) would be the toughest competition for the Capitals. NJ took wins in 3 of the 4 match-ups this season - and have since sured up their offense with Ilya Kovalchuk.
5. I see the Capitals facing off against the Blackhawks for Lord Stanley's Cup, with the winner being decided in 6 games.