NBC’s lead NHL analyst and 1994 Stanley Cup Champion Eddie Olczyk said on The Jim Rome Show on Thursday that the Washington Capitals, who trail the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1, don’t look like the same team that ran away with this season’s Presidents’ Trophy, a team that could put the puck in the net on special teams.
“It just seems like they’re not finishing,” Olczyk said. “Their power play has gone dry, which look, is a big reason why they haven’t been able to find the back of the net. So for me, at the end of the day, when you have those opportunities and you’re a team that does feed off of the power play you have to find a way to be able to score with a man advantage, and if you don’t all the sudden, it becomes a five-on-five game.”
The further you get along in the playoffs, Olczyk noted, you must capitalize on special teams and the Caps are 1-for-10 with the one-man advantage against Pittsburgh.
“In the National Hockey League, the rink gets a little smaller come playoff time. There’s not as much room, everybody checks with purpose, everybody is a little closer to their assignments, and when that takes place, you got to take advantage of the opportunity that you get,” Olczyk said. “For the Capitals, they’ve always had a real good power play, and you have to tip your hockey helmet to the other side. But for me, they haven’t been able to cash in on the power play, and I think that’s the one thing that I think has put them in the spot they’re in is that when they’ve had the chances with the man advantage during the regular season, they were golden come playoff time. Especially in this series, they’ve come up completely dry.”
The former head coach also spoke about the exceptional job being done in Tampa Bay without their star Steven Stamkos, as the Lightning have taken a 2-1 lead over the New York Islanders.
“You really see how good their coach is, Jon Cooper. This team is persistent, they check extremely well,” Olczyk said. “Yeah, they’ve had some stretches in this series where the Islanders have had their way with them, and John Tavares kind of taken the team on his back. But they’re a quick team, and I think this is the way the league is going now. You need to have guys that can move their feet and are smart players, and yeah, there’s something for size and there’s something for heaviness, but to me, they check and skate really well.
This Saturday, Olczyk will also cover the running of the 142nd Kentucky Derby for NBC Sports. As for who he thinks will win? Olczyk likes the favorite.
“I feel as if there is going to be a little bit more speed in this race than people think. You got to look for a horse that is practical. How can you argue against Nyquist?” Olczyk said. “He’s a perfect 7-for-7, he’s won every way you’ve wanted, right? He’s won on the lead, he’s won off the pace, he won from post. 13th last year at Keeneland at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, so for me, I really believe it is Nyquist’s race to lose, but I think his tactical ability will allow him to sit in behind the speed.”
Although Olczyk said make sure you check the weather forecast at Churchill Downs before the race starts.
“There is a chance of some moisture here on Saturday, a little bit of rain, so if the track comes up a little bit wet, I don’t think anybody can beat Exaggerator,” Olczyk said. “I think Exaggerator moves up a whole football length on the track, like you know some horses just really excel on an off-track, and I think he certainly does that.”