Thursday, December 01, 2011

Game #26 - at Washington Capitals

2011-12 Game 26

Pittsburgh Penguins (14-7-4, 32 points) at Washington Capitals (12-10-1, 25 points)

Your leading goal-scorer for the Caps?  Yeah - it's this guy with 9 goals and a higher shooting percentage than anytime since his rookie year with Edmonton.

Why does it matter?

This is the first game between the Pens and Caps with Ovechkin, Crosby and Malkin all healthy since the Winter Classic last year.  The Pens have also had their butts handed to them against the Caps during the regular season over the past few years.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - A bad game in New York continued a string of allowing at least three goals (four games and counting).
  • Capitals - You may have heard they fired their coach.  The next game they managed only 19 shots on goal against the Blues, and Ovechkin didn't get one off until the third period.
Questions to be answered
  • Can the Pens stem the tide?  You know the Caps will come out flying to prove that they're going to turn things around.  Stay disciplined (and out of the box) early on.
  • How will the absence of Letang and Michalek affect the team against the superior offensive firepower presented by the Caps?
  • Fleury has allowed at least three in four straight games - is it time for a Brent Johnson appearance?  I would start him tonight.
Keys to the game
  • Keep your head up, especially Geno.  You can bet that Ovechkin will play a physical game to try to get himself going.  That will likely include taking a run at Malkin.
  • Impose your will.  The Caps seem to be playing in the style of their opponent, instead of imposing what they want to do (see their recent shot totals against the Blues, Rangers and Devils).
  • Play 60 minutes.  During the most recent game against the Rangers, the Pens only managed three shots in the third period.  Consistency is needed.

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