The Washington Capitals have refined their power play punch. It was a point of contention for them last year, but that problem seems to be solved. The Caps enter the playoffs with the second best power play.
In their first series the Caps did play a very good penalty kill team in the New York Rangers. In round one the Caps were ranked seventh with an 18.2% success rate. That may not sound all that great. But compare that to the Penguins who were ranked eleventh with only a 12.5% success rate.
The Capitals have also played better on the penalty kill. In the first round, the Caps hold a slight lead over the Pens as they were ranked seventh with an 87.1% success rate. Pittsburgh ranked eighth, at 82.7%.
I will give the Capitals the advantage when it comes to special teams.
In the coaching department, the Penguins made a change in that department going with Dan Bylsma. Bylsma seemed to have changed the Penguins to a much more aggressive team then they had been earlier in the season. For the Caps, it's Bruce Boudreau. Gabby always seems to get the best from his players in tough situations.
I will go with seniority and give the Capitals the edge in the coaching department.
Last, intangibles. That is the stuff that does not show up on the score sheet and there is no stats for, but it plays an important role in the series. That intangible for this series is home ice advantage. If the series does go long, I like the Capitals' chances with home ice advantage.
Just to recap, here is who I believe has an advantage in every department:
Special Teams: Capitals
Most experts look to have the Penguins taking the series in six games. To do that the Penguins would have to win some crucial away games. For the Capitals, I doubt they would make the same mistake of dropping their first two games at home again. If the Caps can play tough on home ice, which I expect they will, than this is a tougher series for the flightless fowl to win.
There is at least one expert the Capitals have in their corner, Maggie the Macaque from the Bowmanville Zoo. She was the only one of the TSN panel to pick the Caps to move on.