Sunday, January 22, 2012

Game #48 - vs Washington Capitals

2011-12 Game 48

Washington Capitals (25-19-2, 52 points) at Pittsburgh Penguins (26-17-4, 56 points)

This guy just can't stay healthy.  He's out 4-6 weeks for abdominal surgery.

Why does it matter?

This tilt doesn't have the luster that it used to have, but it's still a great rivalry, and it's on national television this afternoon.  That's pretty big.  The Caps have won about a million games in a row in Pittsburgh, and have been generally dominant over the Pens in the regular season the last few years.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Five wins in a row, which matches their longest of the season (the prior five game streak was October 18 - 27).
  • Capitals - They've been inconsistent, and they seem to struggle more on the road.  Overall, they've won four of their past six, but lost two of their past three.
Questions to be answered
  • Is it possible for the Pens to beat the Caps in the regular season?  The rare win over the Rangers gives me hope.
  • Can the Pens get to the power play?  The Caps PK has been vulnerable recently, but the last time the Pens and Caps played, there weren't any penalties called on the Caps.
  • What is wrong with the Washington offense?  In the past month, they've registered 30 shots just once, and it isn't like they're limiting the chances of the other team.  Something isn't right here... even in their losses, they don't seem to be able to open it up when they need to.
Keys to the game
  • Get a lead.  The Caps are offensively challenged right now.  They will have trouble playing from behind.
  • Avoid the slow start.  It's an early afternoon game, so get the legs going early and often.
  • Get to the power play and convert your chances.  Vokoun was really good against the Pens last time.  The power play will help soften him up.

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