Saturday, May 02, 2009

Media Blitz, Game 1 Preview

The only two people in the NHL that are not talking about the series between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Both would rather talk about the series between Washington and Pittsburgh. But the media is having none of that.

Just in the past 48 hours, every question has been posed to both players imaginable. Some including the stick swap the pair did two years ago, whether or not Sid has as much fun on the ice as Ovi and my personal favorite; who is the better player? (If you caught NHL on the Fly this morning, they hit all three)

The media outlets have swarmed the media relations department for the Capitals as well. Prompting them to send out an email to every one asking for media passes for games one and two that they may be placed in a room in the basement and watch the game on a television screen. To say the least, room is at a premium at the Verizon Center.

Bruce Boudreau went so far to call it a circus. Just for the Capitals' practice, Tarik talked about the overwhelming numbers of reporters lining the Kettler Iceplex boards on his blog:
The media contingent out here at KCI swelled to ridiculous proportions this morning. I've never seen anything like it for a second-round matchup. All the locals have been joined by two Toronto newspapers,, the Canadian Press, TSN, Sportsnet, CBC-Hockey Night in Canada, among a dozen other folks I didn't recognize.

Who knows what kind of other crazy questions have been posed to players. Boxers or briefs? Blond or brunette? Regular or unleaded? The last thing anyone needs is the media playing a factor in this series.

This will not be the last we hear about the media overload for this series. Speaking of which, there is a game today.

Round one winners Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals meet once again in the post season. The pair have shared seven playoff series together and the Penguins have always had the upper hand. The Caps has a dismal record of 1 win and 6 losses.

The Caps were able to come from behind in their series with New York to win in seven games. But the Penguins have come from a 2 game deficit three times against the Capitals in their playoff histories. Including a series where Washington built a 3-1 series lead. The Penguins have always have been comfortable playing in Washington.

But these are two different teams. In prior meetings in the post season, the Capitals had only Peter Bondra to face down the likes of Mario Lemiuex and Jarimor Jagr. Now there is are different leaders, different styles of play since their last post season meeting in 2001.

The Capitals have a much more efficient offense and an aggressive forecheck. Parallel that with some pretty dynamic talent and the Caps are a much bigger threat than in previous meetings.

Washington topped Pittsburgh in their regular season meetings 3-0-1. The Pens forced a shoot out get their only win against the Caps. Under Bruce Boudreau the Caps are 4-1-1 against the flightless fowl. The Caps have also found ways to frustrate the Penguins players. They have mostly done that with sharp defense and being more physical.

As far as the Capitals go, the lines aren't going to change all that much. Although, Boudreau does like to keep lineups close to his vest until the drop of the puck. Simeon Varlamov will get the nod in net again as the Caps hope to ride his hot hand through the series.

One thing in the series if for certain, with two top offensive powers on the ice there will be no shortage of highlight reel goals. It will be the garbage goals that might decide this series, and the Caps have had a hard time not making it look pretty. Secondary scoring will be huge for both teams.

The upside for the Capitals is they have gone to battle with one of the league's best defensive squads for seven games. If they maintain the same kind of intensity and focus, they should make quick work of the Penguins' defense and give their goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury a run for his money.

For the locals, if you are thinking about taking the Metro to the game today there are plenty of track maintenance that will cause delays. Delays will be up to 30 minutes for the blue, yellow and red lines. The best bet is to leave early and expect to get to Verizon at least an hour early. Also don't be surprised to see that person next to you who was wearing a Caps sweater last game now wearing Penguins get up. The Pittsburgh contingent should be in full force at the phone booth.

For those of you that will be watching the game from the comfort of your couch, NBC does have a contingent plan should the game go to overtime. Puck Daddy from Yahoo! Sports fills you in.

Rock the Red, Let's Go Caps!

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