With monkey off their back, 'sky's the limit' for Caps

Ben Krimmel
April 11, 2019 - 12:40 pm

So.... back-to-back? Sure, why not? 

After exorcizing some demons in the Stanley Cup Playoffs a season ago, the "sky is the limit" for the Washington Capitals in 2019, ESPN's senior NHL writer Greg Wyshynski said on 106.7 The Fan Thursday.

Wyshynski says while the Washington crowd will also feel better going into this year's playoffs, the psychological boost of winning last year is much greater for the team.

"This is something we've never seen before where we've gotten (a Caps team that's) unburdened, (they're) champions, (they're) no longer gonna have the psychological damage that it's all gonna go wrong," he told The Sports Junkies. "This is the first Capitals team that I can remember that can walk into a series with the Pittsburgh Penguins and feel like they're gonna win and not worry about, you know, some hex or something."

"That's the real x-factor (for) the Caps in this postseason and the one thing that I think a lot of the pundits have struggled with is: Now that they don't have that roadblock in front of them anymore like the sky's the limit, right? If they're able to play as well as they played last season."

READ: How the Caps can go back-to-back

How can the Caps touch the sky for the second year in a row? Well, first they have to get past the Canes.

"The scout on Carolina is: Make the most of your opportunities," Wyshynski said Thursday. "The Hurricanes are the best puck possession team in the league. They really are able to control play, they get a ton of shot attempts on goal, the issue is that they simply don't have the finishers to really, you know, put an exclamation point on that play."

The Caps, on the other hand, have a glut of finishers. And that gulf in finishers will likely be the difference in the series, Wyshynski said.

But the Capitals can't let the Hurricanes linger or struggle in the first round like last year against Columbus. For Wyshynski, Washington just has to put Carolina away early in the series.

"The Hurricanes are a pesky group, a resilient group, and one of those teams that has really perfected the 'us-against-the-world' mentality," he said. "And so don't let 'em fester. Don't go back to Raleigh, you know, 1-1. Just put this team away early. Establish dominance and get yourself a short series early in the playoffs before you have to start playing some tougher teams."

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