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Take Your Pick: First-Round Opponent

The Caps have that nice little "x" next to their name in the Eastern Conference standings, but who they'll face in the first round of the playoffs is anything but a lock.

Right now, the No. 3 Caps match up with the rival Pittsburgh Penguins, but if it were between two teams Washington has struggled against this season -- the charging Carolina Hurricanes and last year's matchup, the Philadelphia Flyers -- which evil would you settle for?


Taking Philly out of the equation, what about these two teams:

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  March 26, 2009; 9:47 AM ET
 
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Comments

I think the Caps match up better against the Flyers.

Posted by: FLDave | March 26, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Caps sweep whoever they play in the first round - consider it a lock.

Posted by: _828 | March 26, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

The question should be: Who would you rather beat in the first round?

My vote is Philly.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 26, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

It would be more interesting (to me) to see a poll carolina vs. pitt. Especially since there is no way we'll face phil in first round.

Posted by: mikebrady1 | March 26, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Why isn't Toronto on that list? Or Columbus or the Kings?

Posted by: _828 | March 26, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Mikebrady: Good idea, adding that poll!

Posted by: Lindsay_Applebaum | March 26, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Definately the Pens. I would love to see the Caps make Crosby weep after game 6.

Posted by: FLDave | March 26, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

828: But I wanna face the Blues in the first round. :(

Posted by: GregAnnapolis | March 26, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I think we match the Flyers better, honestly, and I think this year we'd have a better shot at them.

Posted by: kittypawz | March 26, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Caps can't beat NJ or Philly in the playoffs. Carolina is iffy since they are a fast team that gives the Caps trouble. Caps match up very well against Pittsburgh, Boston, NY Rangers, Montreal

Posted by: poguesmahone | March 26, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

@mauree: I left you a reply in the previous thread regarding whether it's just a matter of intensity and effort.

Posted by: kittypawz | March 26, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

828, what about the doom and gloom thing?

Also, from the last thread:

I wonder how Ovi celebrated the playoff birth yesterday, and did it offend anyone?

Posted by: Leeguru | March 26, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Caps can't beat NJ or Philly in the playoffs. Carolina is iffy since they are a fast team that gives the Caps trouble. Caps match up very well against Pittsburgh, Boston, NY Rangers, Montreal

Posted by: poguesmahone | March 26, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse


Ummmm, I'm not ready to concede defeat to any of them.

Posted by: mikebrady1 | March 26, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Caps would lose the series against Carolina, they would have an equal chance against Pittsburg, and would take the series against the Rangers. BUT, That and a dollar would not buy you a good cup of coffee anywhere.

Posted by: opita1 | March 26, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: yosemite_sam | March 26, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Opita1,

A small coffee at McDOnald's is $1, and they are supposed to have good coffee.

Just sayin'....

Posted by: Leeguru | March 26, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Hurricanes or Penguins would be nice, not Flyers. A potential 7 game series in the first round is bad for both teams. So Flyers would prefer not to play with Caps as well on my opinion.

Posted by: Hazz | March 26, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Leeguru,
Thanks for the tip. I stand corrected on the coffee, however, my prediction still would not get you anywhere, LOL.

Posted by: opita1 | March 26, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I would like to play the Islanders in the first round.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 26, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I Have no preferences on who the caps play in the First round........I want to know who they are playing in the next round.

Posted by: RichC3 | March 26, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Opita1,

I was just worried that in this economy you were foregoing coffee because you couldn't find a cup for a buck. :D

Posted by: Leeguru | March 26, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

How many points do we need to win the S.E. ? I think it is 5.....right?

Posted by: RedRocker | March 26, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I would also like to drop to 8th and play Boston in the first round.

Tim Thomas has about as much playoff experience as most of the people posting on this board.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 26, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

maybe if the caps could beat teams that are out of the playoff picture, we wouldn't have to worry about playing any of these teams and would get the Rangers or the Habs, but if they want to coast to the playoffs then they're in for a long series whoever they play.

Posted by: Moose33 | March 26, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Although I would rather beat the Flyers and Pens, those teams are dangerous because they have the make-up for a long playoff run (multiple scoring lines, great leadership, great goaltending). The Canes have none of that.

Posted by: ThatGuy2 | March 26, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

The Canes have great leadership (Brind'Amour) and a playoff MVP goalie on their team, I wouldn't sleep on the Canes.

Posted by: Moose33 | March 26, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

@ Kity and IRTR - Saw you guys on TV at the Canes game. Forgot to mention it until now! Seemed like you all were having a good time.

now on the the question at hand, I would love to somehow end up playing the Habs or the Rangers....

And whoever said there is no chance we play the Flyers, two points separate the 4th place flyers from 6th place. There is very much a chance we play them in the first round.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | March 26, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Sombrero - The Flyers also have 4 games in hand on the Canes and 3 on the Pens... it could happen, but doubtful.

Posted by: _828 | March 26, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

So, your season relies on Mason? Well, I guess if it ended right now, you would win.

Posted by: _828 | March 26, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I was reading somewhere that an anonymous poll of the Flyers said they would rather NOT play the Devils in the playoffs.

Does everyone remember last year when people said the Caps would sweep whoever they play in the 1st round?

See how that turned out, i'd rather not assume anything in the playoffs.

Philly would wear us down over 7 games
Pitt would give us fits in the 1st few games
Carolina would be constantly down but always find a way back

So, Id take Pitt in the 1st round.

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | March 26, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I wonder how Ovi celebrated the playoff birth yesterday, and did it offend anyone?

Posted by: Leeguru | March 26, 2009 10:14 AM

Lee,
Posted this on the previous thread originally, but as you asked again:

I believe Ovi was making an omelette but had to put the pan down as the handle got too hot. He tried a couple of times to grab it but it was still too hot.

Don Cherry was livid.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | March 26, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Dave,

I assume his teammates failed to come over and help him either

Posted by: Leeguru | March 26, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

If the Caps can remain healthy, stick to their game plan and stay disciplined they can defeat any team in the league. The problem is the whole "IF" question...

Posted by: FLDave | March 26, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I voted Flyers and Hurricanes.

I would prefer to avoid the Hurricanes. They are the hot team. Yes, we have our problems with the flyers, but its revenge time.

The Pens scare the piss out of me. I don't think they are nearly as good as last year (although the deadline trades helped). But, call me superstitous, I remember too many promising post seasons killed by the Pens.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | March 26, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I don't remember anyone saying the Caps were going to sweep whoever they played first round... I actually heard a bunch of people predicting the Flyers to upset the Caps.
Today, I said it as a joke - you know we are going to get swept no matter who we play.

Posted by: _828 | March 26, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

But, call me superstitous, I remember too many promising post seasons killed by the Pens. exactly!

Posted by: _828 | March 26, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

So can Carolina, Boston, Pitt, Philly, MTL, NYR, NJ..heck even the Islanders can beat anyone in the league if they are healthy and stick to a game plan.

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | March 26, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

The Pens scare the piss out of me. I don't think they are nearly as good as last year (although the deadline trades helped). But, call me superstitous, I remember too many promising post seasons killed by the Pens.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | March 26, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

superstitious

Posted by: mikebrady1 | March 26, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

the way the Caps have played of late, all the choices kinda stink.

Posted by: doughless | March 26, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

There's no way the Caps and Flyers play in the first round - math, desire, or anything else. (I haven't read all the comments yets...maybe that's been brought up.) I'm voting for the Pens for one reason: there will be an electric atmosphere and that's the best way to kick off the playoffs. I also happen to think we match up best against their style. It'll go seven.

Posted by: saintex | March 26, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

rdy4all2000,

I disagree. I don't think any team in the league can touch the Caps when it comes to offensively gifted players.

Posted by: FLDave | March 26, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Lee,
Thats right. It was JT's idea to go for an omlette in the first place. Greenie said he'd sort some ham out and Backie said he'd get the cheese, but in the end Ovi had to make do on his own.

BB is going to speak to him about it.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | March 26, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

pens or flyers, either one. I just want to watch the people from Penn. cry when we beat them

Posted by: _stevo | March 26, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

daveuk - You think he's gonna have the chefs at IHOP mad at him for trying to show them up?

Posted by: mikebrady1 | March 26, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

having the most offensive minded players and being able to beat any team in the league are totally different


Its your D and goaltending that gets you through the 2nd season.

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | March 26, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Dave,

Next thing you know he's going to serve white wine with steak. I'm a traditionalist, and think this sort of behavior is out of line for the sport.

Posted by: Leeguru | March 26, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

@SombreroGuy - Awesome! Did you tape the game, perchance? I'd like to see some of what went on there from a different angle than what we got...

Posted by: irockthered | March 26, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Rich, The 2nd and 3rd seed play each other in the second round.....assuming both win there respective first round tilts.

Posted by: ZMANN84 | March 26, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

rdy4all2000,

I believe Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe and Grant Fuhr just might disagree with you.

Posted by: FLDave | March 26, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Then we have a disagreement.

The fact remains though that in order to win a championship in the NHL, you are going to need a goalie with a GAA of 2.00 or less a save pct of .930 or above and a stifling D so your offensively gifted players can actually make a difference.

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | March 26, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

@ Dave

Good one, you had me cracking up in my office.

On the poll -
I think the Flyers will give us the most trouble, although barring a dramatic change we have no chance of seeing them in Rd 1. If a full throttle Caps team comes out of the gate in the playoffs, I'm not worried.

I would like to see the Canes in the first round as part of an all division rival first round.

Posted by: AMHV2772 | March 26, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Can't take all the credit. Lee is the Ernie Wise to my Eric Morecombe.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | March 26, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

daveuk - You think he's gonna have the chefs at IHOP mad at him for trying to show them up?

Posted by: mikebrady1 | March 26, 2009 11:04 AM

Martha Stewart and Wolfgangpuck have weighed in on Ovi's omelette celebration. They're not happy about it. They felt it was disrespectful and showed no class. Whereas, Rachel Ray said it's good for the fans, good for their line of work. If Ovi wants to do an omelette, he should be able to do it however he wants. *snicker*

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 26, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Anyone watch the CGY-PIT game last night. Scary. CGY really busted their butts and deserved to win, but just couldn't get any puck-luck on MAF. So the Caps are not the only team that has been given fits by a run-of-the mill goaltender.

I did especially like how CGY was able to move the puck behind the enemy net and stand PIT up physically; Phaneuf also made some excellent defensive plays on odd man rushes that might otherwise have been goals.

One thing that gives me hope was the fact that PIT missed THREE (3) empty-net shots in the game's final seconds...

Honestly, I want our Caps to win the Cup more than anything.

However, IF they should fall short, I'd like to see CGY win it more than anyone else in the East.

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 26, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Flyers have much more depth than the Caps. The Caps need secondary scoring if they are going to go anywhere.

Posted by: TheSmurfs | March 26, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The only team the Caps could beat in the first round, playing the way they are right now, is Montreal. Every other team in the east is tougher mentally and physically, works harder, and has better goaltending.

Could the Caps turn it around in the last 7 games of the regular season and get hot in the playoffs? Of course they can, we know they're capable of it. (And I hope they do because I'm buying playoff tickets regardless.) But based on how they've played over the last month, right now I wouldn't put any money on them getting out of the first round.

Posted by: spacecadetkid | March 26, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I agree that with the way the Capitals are playing now, even Tampa Bay scares me! By the way, there were several blog references to the fact that Green and Backstrom did not back OV up with that 50th goal celebration. I am wondering how that eventually affect people like OV and Semin when I am seeing some disturbing trends where both OV and Semin are pretty much getting "cheap-shot" hits from the oppositions and the rest of the team "lamely" sits idly. Is Brashear the only enforcer on this team? Are the other "role" players secretly resenting all the publicity that OV and the other more talented goal scorers are getting? It seems like the only person, other than Brashear, to back OV, Semin, Green or Backtrom is Bradley. Unfortunately, he is a small guy with a big heart. What about the other big boys like Erskin ,Schultz, Jurcina, Steckel or Morrison? What are they doing beside collecting a pay check? If you are not scoring or stopping goals, then make yourselves useful! I think the other teams around the league is starting to pick up on the fact that the other Capital players will not back up their "Star" players and are taking full advantage. That hit on Semin in the Toronto game at the end was vicious and all the other Capitals did was watch! And that hit against OV by Brind'Amour against the glass should have been enough to send someone from the Caps side to reciprocate. Anyway, I can go on and on about the number of times OV gets "sticked" between the legs and he is forced to retaliate by him self only. What kind of teammate messages are you sending to your franchise players? YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN? Nice message! Nice teammates!

Posted by: JohnWWW | March 26, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

FLDave
I think the Caps match up better against the Flyers.

The Caps do not match up well against the Flyers. They have no one to match up against the Hartnell & Knuble combination that camps in front of the Caps net. The Flyers have also demonstrated their ability to subdue to some extent Ovie. Timmonen and Richards are relentless at keeping ovie to the outside taking away our true scoring threat. This year's Caps team is not on a roll and is not brimming with confidence like last year's team. My prediction would be 4-2.

This year's Penguins have some new blood leadership in Kunitz and some old blood grit in Guerin. Their goaltending is superior to ours with their defense also getting a slight edge to ours. But we would get our chances against the Pens as their wingers are not the greatest backcheckers.

The Hurricanes have superior goaltending, a ton of grit with Brind A'Mour, Whitney and Larose. Honestly and with all due respect, there is not a guy on the Caps with the grit and presence that a Rod Brind A' Mour provides the Canes. It would definitely be a 7 game series with a bounce here and a bounce there determining the outcome.

I'm a little scared of the Rags too as their goaltending can be stellar or lukewarm but with a gold medal under his belt, Lundquist has the ability to steal a game or two in a playoff situation. This series would definitely go to 6-7 with the Caps getting the better of their opponents.

The Habs offer the best first round opportunity for the Caps. Soft Goaltending, a pourous defense and an array of inconsistent wingers that seldom backcheck. This would be our best first round option. You saw what the physical flyers did to the Habs last year in the second round. They were out in 5.

Posted by: diner99 | March 26, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Nobody wants to play New Jersey

imho the Caps will want to win bad after last years tough loss.

I see only Carolina giving us a hard time.

Without Hosa the Pens are not the same team as last year.

The Canes are on a roll. But they may be a bit winded at playoff time, not unlike us last year.

Posted by: RongCapsFan | March 26, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Rhino40.

If you have hope that an opposing team misses an empty net.
Think about why there is an empty net.

CLG stood up PIT physically? I thought it was a very physical game on both sides.
PIT-44 hits CLG-25 hits.

I see you used "run-of-the mill goaltender. and MAF. In the same sentence.

Interesting.

Posted by: akus2 | March 26, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

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