Capitals look for another strong performance against Penguins in Winter Classic
The biggest lineup change for this evening's NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field will be the addition of Penguins center Jordan Staal, who will be playing in his first game this season under the lights against the Capitals after battling foot and hand injuries.
Pittsburgh Coach Dan Bylsma said that Staal will see time on a line with Evgeni Malkin but that he will limit the rangy center's minutes in his first game back since the injuries. For the Capitals, this means they must prepare for the Penguins' full complement of star centers (even if Malkin will be on the wing at certain times).
"They've always got one of their big centers on the ice," Coach Bruce Boudreau said of the impact of Staal's return. "They can go to the power play and have Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby out and then they come back with Staal. It seems that when he's been in the lineup in the past against us, if Sid or Malkin aren't having a good game, Staal's having a great game. He can be sometimes not having a great game but the other two guys are having a great game."
Not long ago on Dec. 23, the Capitals had a strong outing against Pittsburgh that resulted in a 3-2 shootout loss. It was a hotly-contested, playoff-like atmosphere and for the better part of the contest Washington made it hard for the Penguins' stars to have many clean opportunities. The Capitals want to make sure they follow the same type of formula --preventing Pittsburgh from entering high-traffic areas and impeding Semyon Varlamov's view, maintaining a heavy forecheck -- to have just as good of a showing on prime time against the Penguins tonight.
"We're going to repeat the process, stick to the game plan that we know will make us successful," Matt Hendricks said adding that it will be important to keep the Penguins' chances to the perimeter once again. Washington limited Pittsburgh to just 12 shots through two periods in the first meeting of the season.
"That comes with staying out of the penalty box, obviously, and they've got a lot of skill, a lot of talented offensive players and keeping them to the outside, keeping them to the perimeter makes it a little more difficult to get those opportunities."
| January 1, 2011; 1:19 PM ET
Categories: Winter Classic
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