(Photo credit: Michael Miller)
Two teams trying to get over the hump
It’s a team trying to make a playoff name for themselves and a team trying to change their playoff history.
The matchup between Washington and Columbus may not have the immediate appeal that some of the other first round series offer, but has potential to be one of the best series to watch as the veteran Capitals take on the up and coming Blue Jackets.
How to the young guns match up against the vets?
Season Series: Washington 3-1-0; Columbus 1-3-0
- Washington: Alex Ovechkin (49-38-87), Evgeny Kuznetsov (27-56-83), Nicklas Backstrom (21-50-71)
- Columbus: Artemi Panarin (27-55-82), Seth Jones (16-41-57), Pierre-Luc Dubois (20-28-48)
Players to Watch:
- Washington: It’s rare that a backup goalie is a key factor to watch in a playoff series, but G Philipp Grubauer is leading Washington into the playoffs this year, having gotten the nod against Pittsburgh with the division title on the line last Sunday. With better numbers than Braden Holtby, who has fallen off the rails since February, Grubauer has a chance to be a difference-maker and help Washington finally find playoff success.
- Columbus: At 19 years old, F Pierre-Luc Dubois is set to get his first taste of the playoffs as the top centre for the Jackets. Although he started the season slow, some line-adjusting eventually found him between Panarin and Cam Atkinson, and Dubois flourished to end the year with 24 points in 29 games. In order to outscore Ovechkin and the Capitals, Columbus will need to support him by continuing to be the top-scoring team they’ve been since the deadline.
Outlook: Everybody knows that Washington is a great regular season hockey team. Their playoff history tells a much better story, and Columbus may have ‘lucked out’ in drawing a first round matchup against the Capitals after sitting a majority of their top players in the last game of the season, which if won, could have had them facing Pittsburgh instead.
Since the trade deadline, Columbus has been the highest scoring team in the league, posting a 14-3-2 record. If they can continue this trend, they may be able to upset a Washington team trying to fly under the radar and lower expectations around their playoff aspirations.
Pick: Columbus in six
|1||Thursday April 12||Columbus at Washington||7:30 p.m.||USA, SN360, TVA Sports|
|2||Sunday April 15||Columbus at Washington||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports|
|3||Tuesday April 17||Washington at Columbus||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports|
|4||Thursday April 19||Washington at Columbus||7:30 p.m.||USA, SN, TVA Sports|
|5||Saturday April 21||Columbus at Washington||TBD||TBD|
|6||Monday April 23||Washington at Columbus||TBD||TBD|
|7||Wednesday April 25||Columbus at Washington||TBD||TBD|