Thursday, February 26, 2015

OV Semifinal #2: #2 Loss to Pittsburgh vs. #3 Sweep by Tampa Bay

We've reached the last first-round match in the WMICPH contest. Today, the 2009 7-game loss to Pittsburgh takes on the stunning sweep by the 5th-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011.

Without further ado, let's get started.

The Caps-Pens series was a classic from the start. This classic battle between two classic rivals with a classic Game 7 and (unfortunately) the classic finish of the Caps losing. After winning the series, the Pens went on to win the Stanley Cup. The upsetting thing is, the Caps could have taken the Pens. They were up 2-0. The ECF against Carolina would have been pretty easy, and then it would have come down to Detroit. There is no guarantee that the Caps would have won the SCF, but at least the Pens wouldn't have.
The 2011 Caps was one of the most balanced in recent memory. It was a good team (the Eastern Conference 1st-seed) and they had steamrolled the Rangers in 5 games in the first round. If this team had won, they would be playing the not-as-tough team in Boston, and would have gone on to a good matchup against Vancouver. Again, there is no guarantee the Caps would be Cup champs, but they almost certainly would have been finalists.
Advantage: Push

Impact is pretty tough to measure, given that these are pretty recent, but the TBL loss has had a greater impact. The franchise facelift continued, as the Caps completed a change to an ultra-defensive style when Dale Hunter took over as head coach. The Pens series just gave more incentive to win, but obviously that hasn't happened.
Advantage: Sweep

Shock Factor:
The Caps could have been out in Game 6 against the Pens, and the two teams were considered evenly matched, so there was not a lot of shock when the Pens won.
The TBL loss was shocking because minus Stamkos, the Bolts were an aging team which was not supposed to challenge the Eastern Conference favorites. Instead, the Bolts destroyed the Caps.
Advantage: Sweep

Grudge/Hate Factor:
This is sort of hard, but not really.
Advantage: Loss to Pittsburgh

In the end, I'll choose the first upset of this draw, and I'm gonna go with the Sweep by Tampa Bay. The impact and shock factor caused by this loss will send it to the second round, where it will take on the loss to Montreal. See you then!

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