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Pierre McGuire's Breakdown
Washington    Pittsburgh 
Center Adam Oates and enforcer-turned-sniper Chris Simon had outstanding years, but this team needs more scoring from right wing Peter Bondra. The Penguins will give left wing Richard Zednik plenty of room, so he could have a big series.  OFFENSE

The Edge:
  

Jaromir Jagr is ready to deliver, but he needs some of his teammates to show up as well. Right wing Alexei Kovalev finished the season strong, and his offense will be needed. Washington shouldn't underestimate center Martin Straka, either 

Solid group that can beat you with grit or a little of Sergei Gonchar's finesse. The Caps show a total team commitment to this part of the game.  DEFENSE

The Edge:
  

Addition of Janne Laukkanen and Bob Boughner has really helped solidify the blue line. Now some opponents mistakenly forget about leg-breaker Darius Kasparaitis still being a Penguin. 

Yes, Olaf Kolzig seems like he could stop a bullet with his teeth. The man has frequently been great -- he posted five shutouts -- and simply scary good on other nights.  IN GOAL

The Edge:
  

Getting Ron Tugnutt may have helped team chemistry. Jean-Sebastien Aubin will have his day, but neither guy can afford to give up weak goals. 

Not where they would like to be going into the playoffs. Newcomer Glen Metropolit, a center, needs to get things going with Bondra and Gonchar.  PP

The Edge:
   

With all their talent you would think the Penguins should be better on the power play, too. Laukkanen gives them more of an offensive presence on the blue line, and that should open things up for Jaromir and Co. 

Passive neutral-zone forecheck lulls opponents into a false sense of security, and then, BOOM!, the Caps jump on them. Young buck Jeff Halpern and reliable Steve Konowalchuk do an admirable job killing off penalties.  PK

The Edge:
   

It will be interesting to see whether the Penguins try to get aggressive on the PK in the playoffs or continue to stay passive as they were most of the year. 

Ron Wilson is a master motivator who has a way of convincing players to buy into what he's selling.  COACH

The Edge:
   

Herb Brooks is the coach of record, but he is getting a lot of help from his staff. How well former Czech national team coach and current assistant coach Ivan Hlinka responds to playoff action will play a role. 

This team initiates contact as well as any team at the point of attack. Plus the Capitals believe they can go all the way.  INTANGIBLES

The Edge:
  None 

Speed is the Penguins' huge intangible. They have to use it smartly and, more importantly, consistently in all facets of the game. 

Can right wing Ulf Dahlen create offense from below the goal line? Can Gonchar create scoring chances off the rush and off the cycle?  X-FACTOR

The Edge:
   

The chemistry of their mini crash line of Matthew Barnaby-Tyler Wright-Aleksey Morozov, and the team's top-to-bottom skill level. 
McGuire's Prediction: Washington in 6
 
Pierre McGuire is a former NHL head coach and a regular contributor to Sports Illustrated and CNNSI.com.

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