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Media mob readies for Caps-Pens

There were a large number of reporters at Thursday's morning skate in Pittsburgh; dozens and dozens. The team is readying for an overflow media crowd for the game, and the scrums around Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby were the type where if you got there too late, you couldn't hear a word. This is for the morning skate before a regular season game in mid January.

"Just another day in January--dog days," Pens Coach Dan Bylsma joked with a straight face as he faced a massive morning crowd. "Certainly a different feel leading up to this game and morning skate," he then said, "but I think at the end of the day it's two teams, two teams that want to consider themselves good teams, elite teams, that are seeing each other for the first time."

Indeed, while the Caps have been beating the "just another game" drum, the Pens agreed to play the "this game is special" cowbell.

"It's definitely something you've got marked off on your schedule," Brooks Orpik said. "It's definitely something you've had marked off for a while. I'm sure they'd say the same thing. Guys that say it's not are probably lying."

Lot of liars in the building, apparently. Bruce Boudreau answered a fair number of questions--including some about facing ex-Cap Brent Johnson--before the Caps PR announced Alex Ovechkin was ready and the mob pounced in another direction. You can see Boudreau's reaction to abandonment above.

With the crowd hovering, Mike Green was asked whether it felt like the playoffs?

"Does it feel like the playoffs?" he repeated, a little surprised by the thought. "No, no, no. It's just another regular season game on the way to the playoffs. It's obviously a little different, we haven't played them in the first half, but that's about it."

I told him what Orpik said, and asked if he had circled this game.

"I mean, I think we were aware of them coming up, we knew a couple weeks before just because of the media," Green said. "We have a chip on our shoulder from what happened in Game 7. That's it."

(Green's health, after sitting out practice on Wednesday? "I'm all right," he said. Will he play tonight? "We'll see," he said. "As far as right now, yeah." And why did he miss practice? "Uhhh, I don't know, I just didn't feel like it," he joked. Total playoff answer.)

Bylsma was asked whether last year provides the motivation tonight, and he gave another honest answer.

"i think there's a couple different story lines that anybody can pick and say why the game's gonna have some intensity to it," he said. "And that certainly is one of them. It's been mentioned in the media about our banner being raised and us ending their season and that always adds incentive and salt in the wounds. That's their last memory of last season, so they'll maybe use that as motivation. There's other story lines as well."

Like Alex vs. Sid. Lots of questions about that, too.

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 21, 2010; 1:53 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Next: John Carlson gets more travel miles


Pens fan here (, although I do root for the Caps when they aren't playing the Pens).

Caps take this game tonight:
a) It more means more to them at this point then it does to the Penguins. It has always been that way, historically, but more so now because of last years playoffs.
b) Caps are healthier.
c) Caps have more momentum. Malkin and Fleury have been struggling.

Despite what the victors fan will say afterwards, one regular season game will not reveal much. The only thing at stake is two points. Playoffs are where it counts.

Posted by: niceshoes1 | January 21, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Malkin's struggling?! Dude had a hat trick last game, I'm sure many NHLers would take his "struggles" any day. In all seriousness, I love the Caps but I think Malkin is the Peter Forsberg of his generation, the most underrated superstar [except by opposing players and coaches] in the league.

Great, reliable d-men look average against him - that's saying something. I wonder what would happen if they put a true sniper alongside him - Forsberg made Milan Hejduk a 50-goal scorer. Hejduk's a solid, gutsy player, but 50?!

Posted by: govtimbo | January 21, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Malkin has been struggling (last game not withstanding). And even with his 3 goals, he was still a -2 on the night. But don't me wrong- he is a beast and is not to be taken lightly.

Posted by: Fro_ | January 21, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

"Malkin is the Peter Forsberg of his generation" (from above)

"Ovechkin is the Sidney Crosby of the Sidney Crosby era" (from The Onion)

I can't wait to see them together in the Olympics. I might have to cheer for the Russians this year.

Posted by: tim-n-VA | January 21, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I agree with tim-n-va, the Russians will be very dominant this year in the olympics with the team of ovechkin and Malkin plus with a slew of young talent that resides in the russian league, the russians are posed for a deep run

Posted by: Dlewis10 | January 25, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

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