Who is going to win the series, the Penguins or the Capitals?
Craig Custance: These are the two best teams remaining, but this is the series the Kris Letang and Matt Murray injuries will catch up to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Washington Capitals are deeper, healthier, have the better goalie and showed a resolve against the Toronto Maple Leafs we weren’t sure they had. It’s going to be a great, close series but my bet is that the Capitals win in seven.
Rob Vollman: Washington will win. Both teams are among the best offensively, but the Capitals have the better goalie and are better defensively.
Pierre LeBrun: I was so impressed with the way the Caps finished off the Maple Leafs in the final half of the third period and overtime of Game 6. As I left the Air Canada Centre, it occurred to me that this is as good as I’ve ever felt about the Capitals over the entire Alex Ovechkin era. I still couldn’t bring myself to pick against the Penguins. “Best team left in the East,” said a scout who saw them in the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Pittsburgh’s speed will be a factor against Washington, just like the Leafs’ was. Without Letang, this isn’t as good a Penguins team, and the Caps could still win the series. I need to finally see it before I truly believe it.
Scott Burnside: The Capitals win this series en route to their first-ever Stanley Cup because they won’t have to elevate their game to face the defending Stanley Cup champs. It’s already amped, thanks to the Maple Leafs. This should be terrific theater, but with goalie Braden Holtby in peak form and with a lineup that has already seen contributions from all lines, the Caps will find a way to get past a Penguins team that will miss Letang more than it did in the first-round victory over the Blue Jackets.
Joe McDonald: To be the best, you have to beat the champion, right? Well, that’s not going to happen in this case because the Penguins will win this series. Scotty’s right when he says the Capitals will elevate their game to face the defending Stanley Cup champions, but the Penguins are ready to amp up their game too. Winning his second championship last spring only made Crosby stronger. The pressure might be off but he wants to win again and that makes him, and his teammates, dangerous.