The Pens are cruising. Three for four on the power play yesterday, secondary scoring everywhere you look, solid 3 point nights for both Sid and Geno, speak of the scoring race:
No real recap because I didn’t see any of the game at all but you can check out the NHL’s highlight reel after the jump.
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS v. Washington Capitals
Consol Energy Center, 7:00PM, Root Sports, NHL Network (local blackout)
My oh my the Capitals are an embarrassment. They’re last in the East, and they basically have NOTHING going for them at all. They have bad goaltending (after giving up on Vokoun), bad defense (just on the principal that Mike Green is their best defender), and both Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin have completely forgotten how to produce.
The Caps are so bad that NHL.com felt the need to write about it. This seems like an honest, fairly written article, and they probably could have added more to it. There’s a lot of blame to go around but personally, our take is that the Caps need to cut loose their incredibly inept GM George McPhee. Over the last few years he’s basically done everything in his power to trade or release the character players who made the team as good as it was 4-5 years ago. What the Caps have leftover is a team that is, on paper, still very talented but completely devoid of cohesion and chemistry.
A lot of people out there are seriously advocating for the Caps to trade Alex Ovechkin. Admittedly this article was written back in August, but the gall of this writer is actually hilarious. How in the world would he believe that the Pens would be interested in trading James Neal for Ovechkin? As he correctly points out, Crosby and Malkin are already the second and third highest paid players in the league (behind only Ovechkin), Neal barely makes half of Ovechkin’s salary, he’s more productive, and everyone knew, even back in August that there would be a reduction in the overall salary cap either before the start of this season, or at the very least before next year. Give yourself a round of applause buddy.
Anyway enough about the Caps. The Pens are rolling. They’ve now won their last 4 in a row and except for a brief flurry during the mid-third period in Tuesday’s game there has not been even an ounce of doubt. The images of the listless play against the Leafs, Jets, and Islanders is a distant memory. The Pens are doing what we have always hoped they would do: dominate. Over the last 4 games the Pens have outscored their opponents 18-6. Suttertron is all of a sudden starting to look very Jordan Staal-like, depth scoring has starting coming in from the most unexpected places, like Robert Bortuzzo (what?). And Sid and Geno are still climbing the league’s scoring race rankings.
As with so many games lately, we’re expecting the Pens to roll out the same skaters. There’s a chance that Dylan Reese could crack the lineup, but probably not today. We anticipate Vokoun going in the cage tonight, he’s already got the 1-0 record against the Caps, he’s already got the right attitude for squaring off against the Caps, and he’s yet to play at home, why not now?
Bury them. Go Pens.
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS @ Washington Capitals
Verizon Center, 12:30 PM, NBC
Pens enter the game on a modest 2 game winning streak. Washington enters the game with a 2-5-1 mark, although they did win their most recent contest. The Pens can’t overlook the Caps, this is a perfect opportunity to get 2 points against a struggling opponent. They just need to find a way.
Actually a good bit of journalism from NHL.com about how Geno has almost come to be the most important Penguin in the Pens/Caps rivalry. At the very least he’s the most important Russian given that Ovechkin sucks so bad.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Ovechkin sucks: he’s got 3 points in 8 games. Holy cow.
Reports suggest that literally the only lineup change for the Pens today is Vokoun in net. This doesn’t come as a surprise to me, Vokoun gets the opportunity to play against the team that dumped him for a bag of pucks, and there is no reason for our goalies to go back to back.
Because it’s relevant, John Erskine of the Caps was suspended 3 games for his blatant elbow against Wayne Simmonds. If you haven’t seen the hit, it is pretty bad. This is perhaps the first time we’ve ever seen a truly appropriate punishment for the crime. Erskine doesn’t have a history, but he did concuss Simmonds, as such he has to sit enough games to be worthwhile but the PA isn’t likely to protest, at least not too loudly.
The Pens and Caps have a storied rivalry, no one can deny that. Just imagine if the proposed realignment goes through and the Caps come to be part of the same division as the Pens. There would descend a dark cloud of hate, famine, and bloodshed from New York City clear out to Pittsburgh and down through Washington. If people want to know how the world will end, look no further.
You know the Verizon Center is going to be all jammed up. You know the Capitals, if they stand for anything, are going to come out on fire.
Just bury them now. Go Pens.