How important is past playoff experience?

Penguins winger Jake Guentzel has four total goals in three career Stanley Cup playoff games -- all this spring. How important is prior experience to postseason success? Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire

The attribute those in hockey want most this time of year is experience. Experience is what gets teams over the edge. Experience is what helps teams get through tough times in a playoff series. Experience is what helps a team close out a series.

That’s the theory anyway.

So far, it’s been a tough go for experience.

This weekend saw the young, highly skilled and fearless Toronto Maple Leafs beat the favored Washington Capitals in a Game 2 thriller that went to double overtime. This weekend saw the experienced San Jose Sharks blink first in a scoreless game against the Edmonton Oilers, with Zack Kassian scoring the game’s only goal in the third period, opening a 2-1 series lead for the Oilers.

It was also Pittsburgh Penguins wing Jake Guentzel, now with all of three NHL postseason games on his résumé, scoring his second game-winning goal in the series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

You know what else is good to have this time of year? High-end skill.

But those who have been around it all before will tell you that this is exactly the time experience pays off. Early on when the crushing blow of losing a double-overtime game or trailing in a series happens, maybe that low can sink a team that’s never gone through it.

The thought is that teams like the Capitals, Blackhawks and Sharks, who haven’t gotten off to the starts they want, are the best equipped to handle the hard times.