Key Matchup-

Nicklas Backstrom vs Claude Giroux; could there be a more well rounded matchup? Nicklas Backstrom is second in assists-per-game with 0.73 while Claude Giroux is fifth with 0.69. Both do the most damage while on power plays. The two players are first and second in PP assists over the last five seasons. Backstrom has a bit of  scoring edge on 5-on-5 and Giroux having a small advantage in possession, but their numbers are so close that it’s impossible to see who will edge out who. It’s rare to see such an even match.

Washington Capitals-

Winning Formula: 

Alex Ovechkin may be the leader by he has a great team to lead. He has a solid defense behind him and the crease is safe. Barry Trotz has brought structure and strategy to this team from the bench. Stanley Cup veterans Justin Williams and Mike Richards bring experience and confidence. Evgeny Kuznetsov doesn’t seem as if he can be stopped. The Caps have one of the best offenses in the league, a stone wall defense, and are solid on the power play and the penalty kill. This team is the favorite for the cup based on the past season’s performance.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  

The defense is usually strong, but sometimes they let things slip through the cracks. It’s rare, but in the second half of the season it was becoming more often. The playoffs are more pressure and harder play. Those mistakes cannot be made or they will pay for them.

Considering advanced stats, in particular Corsi, the Caps need to improve their faceoff and puck possession. In recent Stanley Cup history the champs have had strong numbers in the Corsi metric, and if the Tampa Bay Lightning doesn’t get knocked out before the Eastern Conference Final Washington will not be able to stack up of changes aren’t made.

Philadelphia Flyers-

Winning Formula:

The flyers had a strong end to the regular season. Younger memebers of the team Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, and  Shayne Gostisbehere have had a stellar year. Gostisbehere has been a revelation since he joined the team producing more than anyone could have expected. Claude Giroux has lead the team in dominating faceoffs which will certainly benefit them against the Capitals.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less: 

The Flyers lack in defense compared to other teams putting far too much pressure on Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth. They get far too many penalties and their penalty kill isn’t good enough to handle it. Radko Gudas may play for the Flyers, but his tendency for making questionable and dangerous hits could make him a thorn in his own teams side.

Predictions: Capitals in 5

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