So, who did I surprise with Monday’s result? I know I got a few people.
Today I turn my attention to the Caps and the Pens. Who comes out the other side?
Keep scrolling and reading.
Washington Capitals V Pittsburgh Penguins
Standings (as of Monday)
Washington: The Caps are currently leading the Eastern Conference and the NHL. They’re five points ahead of the Pens who are sitting third (league wide). The Caps are off to a franchise best start (much like the BJs).
A recent NHL story outlines some of the reasons as to why the Caps are having a good year:
Balanced, deep and veteran-laden line-up (aka “championship-calibre depth”)
Versatile play style
Ability to score
I don’t think you could really ask more from a team, especially one having a ripper of a rebuild season.
Pittsburgh: The Pens are 5 points behind the Caps after 58 games apiece. Of their 14 losses in regulation this season so far, nine of them have featured the Pens giving up five or more goals.
The Pens are a special team. Of five Stanley Cups final appearances, they have won four times. And they have a healthy rivalry with the Caps and BJs. While the Pens aren’t truly terrible this season, their spark is a little dull.
Evgeni Malkin, centre for the Pens, has even said so: “We have to play better than this. We aren’t playing our game, and I am not playing my game. It is frustrating. This isn’t right.”
Washington: Barry Trotz is the coach of the Caps. Trotz was coach of the Nashville Predators for 16 seasons before moving to Washington in 2014.
Trotz started out as an ice hockey player trying to make it into the NHL. He wound up at a training camp for the AHL’s Hershey Bears, the NHL parent team to the Caps. Hershey is the same team Aussie NHL hopeful Nathan Walker plays for.
Interestingly enough, Trotz was given a chance at the camp because an executive thought he might be a good leader or coach someday. Trotz is on the brink of bringing Walker up to the NHL. He was so close to calling Walker up a few weeks ago you could taste it on your tongue. But, Walker broke his hand so has to wait a few more weeks.
Pittsburgh: The Pens have had 22 head coaches since founding in 1967. In the past 10 years, they’ve had 4 coaches. It’s been a little unstable in recent years. Dan Bylsma was replaced by Mike Johnson in 2014 who was replaced by Mike Sullivan in 2015.
Sullivan played 10 seasons in the NHL with the Sharks, Flames, Bruins and Coyotes. He became a coach when he retired in 2002. He was coach of the Boston Bruins from 2003-06 and was an NHL assistant coach for eight seasons with the Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. He was John Tortorella’s (coach of the BJs) assistant coach for seven years.
When Sullivan replaced Johnston as the Pens coach the team was 15-10-3 and out of a playoff spot. Six months to the day later, the Pens won a championship by defeating the San Jose Sharks, the team Sullivan began his NHL playing career with back in 1991.
The man has experience, no doubt about that.
Washington: The Washington Capitals did an entire calendar with pets in 2015! An. Entire. Calendar.
Even better, I found an article with 75 pictures from the shoot.
Pittsburgh: Oh my, the Pens have a calendar with pets too! This is just too good. I guess I can’t pick my team based on pets now, because they both have amazing calendars.
Washington: Braden Holtby seems like a really cool goalie. He has a couple of great masks, he has a couple of awesome photos with his mask. But what I really love is his “equality mask” – the one he wore on February 24, during Hockey is for Everyone month. Holtby is also the Caps’ LGBT-inclusion ambassador. That’s freakin’ awesome!
Philipp Grubauer has a pretty sleek mask. It’s funny. I’m finding it easier to find current images of backup goaltender masks than I am starting goalies!
Pittsburgh: I really loved Marc-André Fleury’s Stadium Series mask. Very nostalgic. Super impressive.
Matt Murray. Seriously, what’s the go with being able to find backup goalie masks easier than starting? I’m not kidding. That’s four teams now.
Matt’s mask – it’s pretty. It’s Pens colours. It’s aiight.
Washington has a traditional goal horn sound, underneath a siren – like a cop car. Their song is The Wicker Man by Iron Maiden. Standard.
Pittsburgh’s goal horn is also traditional, but it comes in short-ish blasts followed by Andrew WK’s Party Hard. I love that song!
And the winner is…
This one was tough to decide. I’m really excited to see Nathan Walker play for the Caps one day really soon, but ultimately I’m picking the Pens.
The Pens are a good team. And now that I have read more about their coach, I can see why. He’s a special coach for a special team, which is made up with some dang special players (you know, like Crosby).
So, two days into round two I have two teams through to the next round: the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins.