Eastern Conference playoffs
(First-round series; best of seven)
Season series: Penguins won, 3-1.
Offense: Mario Lemieux, the NHL's leading scorer (161 points), leading goal scorer (69), leading power-play scorer (31), leading short-handed goal scorer (8) and leading assist man (92), is back in the playoffs for the first time in two years, anchoring an offense that also includes Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis and Petr Nedved. Washington counters with Peter Bondra (52 goals) and Michal Pivonka (65 assists). Edge: Pittsburgh.
Defense: Until the injury curse sidelined Calle Johansson, Joe Reekie and Brendan Witt, this clearly was Washington's strength. Veterans Mark Tinordi, Sergei Gonchar, Sylvain Cote and Jim Johnson are going to have to cover a lot of ground. Pittsburgh is anchored by Sergei Zubov, Chris Tamer and Francois Leroux. Edge: Pittsburgh.
Goalies: Washington's Jim Carey (2.26 goals-against average, .906 save percentage) and Olie Kolzig (3.08, .887) vs. Tom Barrasso (3.34, .902) and Ken Wregget (3.24, .905). Carey led the NHL in shutouts (9). Barrasso has Cup experience. Edge: Even.
Special teams: Pittsburgh, No. 1 in power play and No. 8 in penalty killing, gets full marks. The Caps' power play has struggled all season and, with massive injuries, penalty killing has been weaker. Edge: Pittsburgh.
Coaches: Pittsburgh's Ed Johnston has a lot to work with. The Caps' Jim Schoenfeld should be Coach of the Year. Edge: Washington.
Injuries: Washington learned yesterday that C Pat Peake (knee) could suit up as early as tonight. He's officially listed as day-to-day. Johansson (sprained wrist), Reekie (broken foot), Witt (broken wrist), LW Steve Konowalchuk (broken thumb), LW Keith Jones (groin), LW Craig Berube (torn knee ligament), D Ken Klee (sprained knee) and D Stewart Malgunas (shoulder) are out. Pittsburgh D Ian Moran (shoulder surgery) and RW Ed Patterson (back surgery) are out and LW Joe Dziedzic (shoulder) is day-to-day.
Pub Date: 4/17/96