If Caps-Pens history is any indication, get ready for fireworks
In the last eight regular-season meetings between the Capitals and Penguins, games from 2008-09 and 2009-10, no less than seven goals were scored in each contest while half ended with nine goals total on the scoreboard. One thing is certain when these two star-laden teams meet up: While you're never quite sure which squad will come out on top, there's usually plenty of offensive fireworks on display.
If tradition remains true, tonight's contest could be a good way for the Capitals, who have posted three or more goals just twice in the past seven games and just three times in the past 10, to invigorate their offense once again. Pittsburgh has given up three or more goals against in just two of its past 14 outings, though, and those occasions were the Penguins' only losses in that span. So in this battle of wills, it may be a matter of who can establish their offensive rhythm fastest at Verizon Center.
Here's what Coach Bruce Boudreau had to say when asked why games against the Penguins seem to light up the scoreboard: "Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Green, Letang are all pretty good offensive players," he said. "And both teams like to go. When that happens, you usually end up with a higher-scoring game than normal."
The Penguins' likely starter tonight, Marc-Andre Fleury, was in net for the duration of all but three of Pittsburgh's past 14 contests. In his last 16 starts, Fleury is 14-1-1 and he's allowed two or fewer goals on 13 occasions, posting a 1.74 goals against average and .940 save percentage. Against Washington in his career, Fleury is 8-3 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.
In discussing their upcoming foes over the past two days, the Capitals were in no mood to give any sort of bulletin board material. They simply stated the challenge that a team playing as well as the Penguins are right now poses to a Washington squad looking to get completely back on track after that eight-game losing streak.
And while sparking the struggling power play, which has gone 5-for-43 over the past 12 contests, is a priority, the Capitals want it fully functioning regardless of the opponent. Potting a few goals on the man advantage against the Penguins' league-leading penalty kill (88.4 percent) might only make it temporarily sweeter, though Boudreau did say this morning that he had the past four games' worth of Pittsburgh penalty kills to break down and analyze further before the faceoff at 7 p.m.
"We just want to score and win the hockey game. We don't care if it's Pittsburgh or if it's another team, what their penalty kill is," Brooks Laich said. "Our power play is usually one of the strengths of our team and it has to be better for us to win."
Posted by: dimagus | December 23, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ridgely1 | December 23, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 23, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse