Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Will the Capitals or Penguins win game seven? Yes.

The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins will face each other tonight in a Game 7 showdown that seemed exceedingly unlikely just a few days ago. Through four games, it looked like Pittsburgh had all but wrapped up a trip to the conference final. But after seeing Washington play it’s two best games of the series in a pair of must-wins, who knows what’s going to happen tonight?

I do. I know what’s going to happen.

It’s not actually all that hard to figure out. Tonight’s winner is pretty obvious if you know the five key factors to look for. So today, let’s list those five factors, and why they add up to a sure thing.

(Note to editors: I actually have no earthly idea who’s going to win tonight. So I came up with five good reasons for each team; I’m thinking you can just “accidentally” hold off publishing this until after the game, then delete all the ones that turn out to be wrong. It’s all pretty foolproof, just as long as nobody screws up and posts the whole thing during the day.)

Here are the five reasons why tonight's winner is an easy call. Spoiler alert: Don't read any further if you want to be surprised!

The Penguins will win because: They know how to close.

You're going to hear a lot about Justin Williams in the lead-up to Wednesday night. He's Mr. Game 7, after all, with a track record of coming through in the clutch.

That's nice that the Capitals have one guy who fits that description. The problem is that the Penguins have a roster full of them.

These are the defending Stanley Cup champs we're talking about. Several key guys have two rings. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury and others have won a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup final. The franchise is 5-0 in Game 7s on the road, including a win in Washington. They're not going to wilt here.

The Capitals, on the other hand... well, we'll get to that in a bit. But it's fair to say that when it comes to knowing how to win, this one is no contest. One team has been talking about getting over the hump for the better part of a decade. The other actually goes out and does it. When in doubt, go with the team that's been there before.

The Capitals will win because: They're dominating right now.

History lessons about past Pittsburgh glory are nice and all, but we're worried about right now. And right now, the Capitals are kicking the Penguins' butts all over the rink.

That was largely true even early in the series, when the Pens were getting wins and everyone was ready to write the Capitals off. Washington wasn't playing perfect hockey by any stretch, but they were playing well enough to deserve a better fate. The Caps have outshot the Penguins by a lopsided 200–133 count so far in the series. They've also dominated possession, and had more scoring chances.

Early in the series, they ran into a hot goalie and some tough bounces, and probably deserved a better fate. But that sort of thing can start to even out over a long series, and that's what we've seen over the last two games.

Right now, there's really no question over who's the better team. It's been Washington all along, and the gap is only getting wider as the series goes on.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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