As almost mirror images, Penguins and Capitals take divergent paths in rebuilding on the fly

PensBurgh

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals make for a fantastic comparison. If only starting with the natural recoil both teams and fanbases will feel to be held up against each other as peers.

But the two teams have a lot in common right now. There’s the three straight tremendous second round playoff series from 2016-18, where the winner emerged on a Stanley Cup winning trajectory.

Both teams are fully in “win now” mode. Both have among the most wins in the regular season in the past decade or more. Both have star-studded cores, who are probably aging to the point where the end is closer to the beginning.

It obviously starts with the captains and iconic franchise center-pieces who are the most impactful individuals in this generation of hockey players in Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Crosby turns 32 before next season starts. Ovechkin, 34. It hasn’t limited them much — Crosby was an MVP finalist, his 2.92 5v5 Points/60 last year ranked only behind the winner Nikita Kucherov. Ovechkin won his eighth career Rocket Richard trophy for leading the league in goals.

From there we have other similarities:

World-class support for the captains, in the form of Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin for the Pens, and their counterparts are Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov

A right-handed puck moving, big-time point producing #1 defenseman that crushes a ton of ice time in all situations (Kris Letang and John Carlson)

A heart-and-soul right wing that carries a high cap hit and has injury concerns to go along with a long contract (Patric Hornqvist and TJ Oshie)

Add in success on the power play and we have about as close to mirror images as possible.

#hockey, #professional

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