Tom Boswell summed up the Caps/Pens series like this: "Now bring on Sidney Crosby, the darling of NHL marketing who looks like James Bond, so he can face the Great Eight, the Capital who looks like everybody who was ever sent to kill Agent 007." (Save the Pussy Galore jokes, please)
The Caps owned the regular season series, dropping only the last game in a shootout. Alex Semin ripped 'em for four goals, as did Alex Ovechkin. And no Cap finished with a negative +/- rating. Poor Sid had just one measly little goal. Domination.
But these ain't December's Penguins. Like the Caps last season, a mid-season coaching change has transformed the team.
In the 25 games since Coach Bylsma took over, they're 18-3-4. They score more. They allow less. It's a simple formula.
They certainly showed what they're capable of with their three-goal comeback win to vanquish the Flyers in Game 6 of their first-round series.
It's going to be a tough series and James Mirtle sums up some of the reasons why:
"The Caps looked completely befuddled by a terribly mediocre Rangers team that couldn't score all season, and I really wonder if they'll have an answer defensively for a Pens club that has been incredibly difficult for teams to contain under Coach Bylsma."
Maybe after the disappointment of the previous round -- and perhaps some overconfidence -- the underdog role will suit them. We know that Ovie's sure to be amped.
With the way they've been playing, Malkin and Crosby are sure to get theirs. It's just up to AO, Semin and Green to see if they can match.
The Bond villains never won because they got too fancy -- sharks with lasers and all that. Ovie's a simpler man. He'll take his goals any way he can get them. And so will Caps fans.
Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment. He sees a high GAA in Fleury's future.