The President’s Trophy winning Florida Panthers look to make some noise as they battle the Washington Capitals. The Panthers have exploded into one of the best teams in the league after years of alway being a dark horse candidate. For the first time in the team’s history, the Panthers have won the President’s Trophy for being the best team with the most standings points during the regular season. Led by Captain Aleksander Barkov and Hart Trophy nominee Jonathan Huberdeau, the Panthers have created an offensive juggernaut.
The Capitals have always been a force in the Metro Division and the Eastern Conference. With goal scoring legend Alexander Ovechkin leading the charge, the Capitals have had a mediocre season due to their struggles between the pipes. An aging veteran team, the Capitals just like their rivals the Penguins, are looking to try and make a solid run with the current core.
These teams faced off three times during the regular season with Florida taking two of the three matchups. Every game between these two teams resulted in a one goal difference. The Panthers have the overall advantage in the series leading the league in advanced stats for offensive categories. They are a scoring machine being top ranked in five vs five goals for, five vs five expected goals for, and five vs five goals for. The Panthers generate a ton of chances, shots on goal, destroy teams in transition, and slice and dice opponents when they get set up in the offensive zone.
The Capitals do have a lot of offensive weapons like Ovechkin, Evgenii Kuznetsov, TJ Oshie, and Anthony Mantha. But they will have to try and withstand the depth and firepower of the Panthers. Especially with the strength of their goaltending with Bobrovsky taking a major step forward, the Capitals have a tough task going against the best team in the league.
Players To Watch
For the Capitals, Ovechkin is one of the greatest goalscorers to ever do it. He’s always hungry and always looking for the puck. As he continues to chase Gretzky’s record, “The Great Eight” makes goal scoring look easy. Especially with his patented one timer from the top of the left circle, which has easily become one of the most unstoppable shots in the league.
Florida’s superstar this season, Jonathan Huberdeau has become a phenom in terms of scoring. This season he broke the record for points by a Panther in a season and the record for the most points scored by a left winger in the entire league. A savvy playmaker and a fast skater, Huberdeau is one of the best wings at generating offense in transition. With laser precise passing, he can get the puck to any one of his teammates no matter how difficult the pass is.
My Prediction: Panthers over the Capitals in four games
The Panthers are just one of the most unstoppable teams in hockey right now. No matter how big the lead is, the Panthers have shown time and time again during the regular season that no lead is too big for them. The Capitals with their current roster and issues in net have me worried for they can defend against the Panthers