The Capitals should be afraid, very afraid.
They’ve dominated all four games this series, and they’ve only came out victorious in one.
I hear many people saying that the Capitals deserve to be leading this series.
No, they don’t.
Sure, if hockey were just five skaters versus five skaters and a piece of plywood in each net, they deserve to be leading this series.
Teams don’t just pay those guys in the crease for nothing. Especially if they’re paying $5.75M for an insurance policy. It was hard to justify keeping Fleury before the trade deadline with all of the holes on the Penguins blue line.
Marc-Andre Fleury has been worth every last penny.
This has been his series.
Make no mistake about it, Fleury has won each of the three games for the Penguins thus far and he kept them in a game that they had no business taking to OT in game three.
This is peak MAF.
He’s never been your conventional, positionally-sound goaltender.
That’s what earned him the first overall pick in the 2003 NHL entry draft.
His incredible flexibility, cat-like reflexes and spontaneous poke-checks have been on full display this postseason.
He’s challenging every shot and looking the shooter right in the eyes and standing tall.
Fleury is actually making some of his best saves on rebounds, which are the most dangerous scoring chances in the sport, and he’s making it look easy.
Fleury saves the game pic.twitter.com/yi4vKcwzbY
— evgeni malkin's ego (@EvgeniMaIkinEgo) April 17, 2017
He’s made 314 saves on 336 shots this playoffs and a lot of them have been sparkling glove saves, desperation pad flails and miraculous swipes of the sticks.
what a stick save by fleury, my god pic.twitter.com/z3jPGCvw9x
— evgeni malkin's ego (@EvgeniMaIkinEgo) May 2, 2017
If this really is Fleury’s last stand in Pittsburgh, it has been exactly what he deserved.
He is looking across the rink at Vezina nominees and showing them how the position is played in high-stakes situations.
First, Bobrovsky, now Holtby, and possibly Lundqvist after that.
If the Penguins can complete this title run, and there’s no reason to think that they can’t with their most difficult tests coming in rounds one and two, Marc-Andre Fleury will be able to add Conn Smythe recipient to his resume.
However, Fleury is just one reason the Capitals should be scared.
Video evidence of Crosby's participation pic.twitter.com/iYWKqAiOiQ
— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) May 5, 2017
I’m not going to jump to conclusions, but that is about as good of a sign as you can possibly get. Crosby is not new to concussions and he knows how serious they are.
He’s not going to rush himself back.
It’s plausible to think that the Penguins held Sid out of game four just as a precaution, to ensure no lingering symptoms arose as they often do with concussions.
I don’t think he would be practicing in a normal jersey if he wasn’t symptom free.
I’ll say this, the Capitals better hope this series ends before Sidney Crosby gets on the ice against them.
He is always the best player in the world, but when you piss this guy off, you can consider yourself done for.
Do you know what happens when Sidney Crosby comes back from injury pissed off?
Matt Niskanen, you played scared all of game four.
The puck couldn’t get off your stick fast enough every time you had it.
You might as well just stay the hell in the press box if Crosby is back for game five, because he’s coming for you.
He’s not going to try to fight you.
He’s not going to take a run at you.
He’s not even going to take a cowardly cheap shot at you.
He’s going to play within the rules and embarrass you in front of a national audience.
And Alex Ovechkin can watch him do it, he’ll have plenty of time to watch while playing his third line minutes next game.
The Penguins aren’t going to get even with physicality. They don’t care.
If you want to try to win a series by injuring stars on an already battered team, go right ahead and do it. The hockey world saw who the Capitals are.
The Penguins will continue to ‘just play’ and extend the annual tradition of sending you to the golf course after the second round year after year with nothing but a Presidents Trophy to show for your efforts.
No starting goalie, no franchise defenseman, no Conor Sheary, no Sidney Crosby and your team that was once again touted as the Stanley Cup favorite couldn’t even put away the Penguins.
Blow up your team, do whatever you want, it won’t matter.
Penguins eliminate Capitals in round two.
You’ve awoken a beast, and you should be afraid.