Washington Capitals (21-24-7, 49 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (25-17-8, 58 pts)
The Caps have been largely mediocre all year. They've had a few hot streaks, topping out at 15-11-7, before starting a long, slow slide to where they are now. They're just 2-7 in their last nine games. They've been out shot for 10 games in a row. They've yielded a power play goal in three straight games, including three goals on Thursday. This is something that should have the Pens licking their chops.
The Caps are led by Alexander Ovechkin with 33 goals and Alexander Semin with 29 goals. Unlike Sidney Crosby, both Ovechkin and Semin are minus players. Ovechkin is a -11, which is troubling for him because he has 41 points at even-strength or short-handed, and he's STILL a -11. That says that when he's on the ice, you need to be aggressive and attack.
The Pens are on a great hot streak right now and may have dodged a bullet in the Montreal game on Thursday. Anytime you give up two goals late in the third to allow your opponent to tie, and two short-handed goals in one game, you're asking for trouble. However, when things are going well, you still find ways to win. That's exactly what the Pens did. Now they can (hopefully) get back on more solid footing. They're going to need it this weekend.
The prior meeting this season was the amazing comeback from a 4-0 deficit. The Pens looked like world beaters for about two games after that and then went on a five game losing streak. Ugh. Let's hope such theatrics aren't needed this time.
Caps blog - the general feeling around the Caps blog-o-sphere is that the Caps are about sunk. Everyone was particularly distraught after their thumping at the hands of those nasty Kitty Cats from Florida. Capital Fanatic is pretty representative of what seems to be the general consensus. Remember what this feels like? I do.
I'm looking for another high energy effort against the Caps. The Pens are going to need it. The Caps are going to come out gunning and the Pens will need to be ready.
Let's Go Pens!