“Game of the Night” is a feature that takes a daily look at the best game on the NHL schedule, and sets it up for you. So y’know, you should probably watch the game below. This is brought to you by the Werner Ladder Company (check out their hockey vid here), because how else do you think the bulbs in the red goal light get changed?
Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins
Washington Capitals: 12-15-1 (last 10: 5-5-0), 13th in East, 25 points
Pittsburgh Penguins: 22-8-0 (last 10: 9-1-0), 1st in East, 44 points
It may not be your typical “Game of the Night” as far as standings go, what with the Capitals not holding up their end of the bargain this season, but these two teams have a history, and people care about them.
The Penguins have won both their previous 2013 matchups – this is the last time they’ll face each other this season.
Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. EST
Need to know:
* The Pittsburgh Penguins are riding the NHL’s current longest winning streak, having so far put together nine straight. And hey, the Washington Capitals have managed to string together one straight, so y’know, coupla big streaks on the line here.
* All jokes aside, the Caps are walking into a huge four game road trip. Seven points out of playoffs with 20 games to go on their schedule, and they’ve got Pitt tonight, then a pair of back-to-back games with Southeast Division opponent Winnipeg, then a final one against the Rangers in MSG. If they come out of this trip below .500, it’s probably time to write them off. BUT NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING, GUYS.
* Brooks Laich is comin’ back for the Caps, at last! He hasn’t played yet this season (groin).
* The Pens are turning their attention to defense. While they’ve still given up more total goals than Columbus, they’ve only allowed five against over their last five.
Injuries (via NHL.com):
Defensemen John Erskine (upper body), Mike Green (groin), and Tomas Kundratek (lower body) are still out, though the Capitals hope Green will play sometime during the trip. Laich (groin) could be available during the trip. … Pittsburgh is still without Evgeni Malkin (upper body), though last season’s scoring leader is skating again. Defenseman Kris Letang left Sunday’s game with a lower-body injury; the team said Monday he’ll be evaluated again.
Washinton: Braden Holtby (confirmed)
From DailyFaceoff.com: After a sluggish start to the season Holtby and the Capitals have turned things around. Holtby is 4-2-0 with a 2.35 GAA and .929 SV% in March.
Pittsburgh: Marc-Andre Fleury (confirmed)
From DailyFaceoff.com: Fleury won all three starts he made last week with a 1.00 GAA, .956 SV% and one shutout. He will get the nod again tonight at home vs. the Capitals. He is 8-2-0 with a 2.38 GAA and .900 SV% at home this season.
What I’m looking forward to:
As lame as it may be to some hockey fans who tired of “Ovechkin vs. Crosby” talk back when it was still a thing… I’m still into it. I’m even more into it now that Crosby seems to have separated himself from the pack, though I do finally find myself rooting for Ovechkin, given the types of things you see said/written about the guy these days. Ovy, for his part, has scored in two of the Caps last three games, and now leads the team with 11 snipes (congrats to him for pulling ahead of…Troy Brouwer?).
On top of that, there’s always the potential for fireworks in these games because there’s a lot of talent out there, and the goaltending has the potential to go from solid to suspect in a hurry. The other type of fireworks – the ones that involve fists and faces – are always possible too, given the hatred that built up between these two franchises during their years battling for the top of the Eastern Conference.
I’m gonna take my first big risk here and call the Capitals. I think this is a team that knows they need to get things turned around immediately, they know the importance of where they’re at in the season, and they always get up to play the Pens. I just see them having a good road trip, and it has to start somewhere.
Game of the Night prediction record: