The destination is the Stanley Cup Final, a place the Washington Capitals haven’t been in 20 years. The obstacle is the Tampa Bay Lightning, who entered Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals with a 3-2 series lead, having won three straight games.
How do the Capitals break through that obstacle to get to that destination? By transforming into a battering ram.
Ryan Callahan of the Lightning said the Capitals’ desperation was as evident as the lack of it from his own team.
“They played like their lives were on the line, and we played like we had another chance, and that’s unfortunate,” he said.
Toughest tests: Playing in the NFC South is tough enough, but away matchups against both the Packers and Steelers adds to that. Pittsburgh is part of the AFC North series, and drawing the toughest of those teams on the road is not a desirable outcome for the dome-dwelling Falcons. The matchup with Green Bay comes with both teams finishing third in their respective divisions. That normally would seem like a good draw, but not against a team led by Aaron Rodgers, who’s coming back from a broken collarbone suffered in 2017.
Biggest breaks: Playing against fellow NFC third-place teams gives the Falcons some bad luck, but also some good. They’ll get the Cardinals at home in what should be one of the more winnable matchups of the year; Atlanta scraped together a respectable 7-9 season in 2017 but is moving toward rebuild mode. And the Falcons getting the Browns on the road is always a nice addition to the schedule.