Preview: Penguins vs Capitals
Date: Wednesday, November 20th 2013
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals Preview
It’s finally here the NHL’s “biggest” rivalry a game the NHL has been waiting for since the realignment. This is the first time these two teams will meet as divisional rivals since 1993, in the final days of the Patrick Division. The Penguins won that game 4-1 but it has no relevance in tonight’s match-up, obviously. It was 20 years ago!
What makes this match-up even more interesting is that it’s for first place in the Metropolitan Division and the two players who split the League MVP trophies last season, Alex Ovechkin (Hart Trophy) and Sidney Crosby (Ted Lindsay Award), renew their personal duel.
Pittsburgh has seen its lead in the division cut to one point after they dropped four of six overall and three straight on the road. But they have been better in the past three games winning for the second time in that span.
The Penguins enter this game off a 3-1 victory over the league leading Anaheim Ducks. They broke out of their slump by scoring 3 goals but if you watched the game goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stole the show.
As for Washington they started the season 5-7-0 but since then they racked up a 7-1-1 run. The Capitals did jump first in the division over the weekend but the Penguins victory Monday night pushed the Caps back to second.
Since Adam Oates took over the Capitals are 8-1 in shootouts. Five of their wins this season have come in the shootout. The Penguins also have 10 straight shootout wins dating back to 2011. It’s safe to say when you have guys like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Crosby and Malkin spread throughout these two teams – they’re going to be very good in shootouts.
Ovechkin has three goals and four assists during his team’s losing streak to Pittsburgh, while Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have eight points apiece in those four games.
Chris Kunitz scored a career-high four goals in Pittsburgh’s most recent visit to Washington but has one goal and one assist in his last six games.
The Penguins haven’t dropped four straight on the road since Dec. 29, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010.
Malkin hasn’t scored a goal in 14 games, a career-long drought for him. He does have nine assists in the past eight games, and his individual effort on the first goal against Anaheim was a thing of beauty.
Ovechkin has four goals in the past three games, but even more impressive is his 40 goals in his past 42 regular-season contests.
Malkin did not practice Tuesday for the Penguins, but coach Dan Bylsma called it a maintenance day and expects him to play Wednesday. Defenseman Rob Scuderi (ankle), forward Chuck Kobasew (lower body) and goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) are out.
Capitals defenseman Mike Green (groin) completed practice Tuesday but remains a question mark to play Wednesday. He’s on injured reserve but eligible to come off. Defensemen John Erskine (knee) and Jack Hillen (leg) are out.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Marc-Andre Fleury (confirmed)
Washington Capitals – Braden Holtby (confirmed)
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals Prediction
This is a small NHL pick and it will be documented in our overall NHL record.
In recent years I have had success predicting a Penguins/Capitals match-up but tonight seems to be more of a coin toss. As far as who will win is concerned.
The Penguins were in a slump but they managed to get out of it and Marc-Andre Fleury is playing great this season. A recent trend does favor Pittsburgh as they have not lost 4 straight on the road since Dec. 29, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010.
Both teams can light the lamp and since it is on Wednesday night rivalry – prime time – I would have to imagine we see a high scoring game. Last week’s Wednesday night rivalry was between the Penguins and Flyers and we only saw a combined 3 goals scored. Not exactly ratings material for the NHL.
Expect a bit of a more high scoring game and possibly see Malkin end his goal scoring drought tonight. The line is typically set at 6 for these match-ups but tonight we have value in the OVER 5.5 with odds at +100 (even)
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