Commentary

Keys to a Pens-Caps Eastern final

Despite all the stars, it may come down to Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Semyon Varlamov

Originally Published: December 15, 2009
By Tom Awad | Puck Prospectus
Evgeni Malkin, Sidney CrosbyGregory Shamus/NHLI/Getty ImagesSidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pens provide slightly more offense than the Caps.

Last spring, hockey fans were treated to one of their dream matchups in the playoffs: the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Washington Capitals. Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin. The matchup lived up to the hype for the first six games before a 6-2 blowout sent the Penguins to the next round and, eventually, to the Stanley Cup. This year, the Capitals and Penguins are once again near the top of the Eastern Conference, and it says here that they are the most likely teams to progress to the Eastern Conference finals.

As I did for the Western Conference Finals, I assumed that the current rosters would be the ones that would be present in the playoffs, and that each team would be free from injury, with all its key players present. Given the strength of both rosters and the salary cap considerations that would come into play (Editor's note: This did not factor in Michael Nylander's recent transfer to Grand Rapids, which could affect Washington roster moves.), the teams we see now are likely to be the same teams we will see in April. I then simulated the matchup 5,000 times to see which team came out on top. The Penguins won 2,743 times, or close to 55 percent.

The keys to the matchup:

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