It is no secret; the Washington Capitals like to score goals. Coming into tonight, the Caps have scored 13 goals and have out-shot their opponents 112-62 in their first three games. The Caps have also out-shot the Pens in six out of their last eight match-ups. However, the Penguins have won seven of those eight games.
The Penguins continue their four-game home stand against the Capitals tonight at 7:30pm. The Mellon Arena has no doubt been a difficult place for opposing teams to play. The Penguins have not lost a regular season regulation game at the Igloo since February. With the expected 70th consecutive sellout in Pittsburgh Thursday night, the Pens will hope for more of the same.
The Penguins are coming off an emotional win against their cross-state rival Philadelphia Flyers. Unexpected goals by Brooks Orpik and Mike Zigomanis became vital in the win, but the big time scorers will have to connect at some point. Chemistry is still clearly developing, but with time, the Pens could become a very dangerous offensive unit. The Washington Capitals are already that.
As for the goaltender match-up, the Caps have used Jose Theodore and Brent Johnson, both seeing 90 minutes of game time. As for Marc-Andre Fleury, he has played stellar in the last two games, especially when you disregard the two goals that Hal Gill deflected into the net. But Fleury cannot face 30+ shots every game. The lack of Whitney and Gonchar behind the blue line is evident, but the Pens’ defense needs to start winning one-on-one match-ups and take some pressure off Fleury.
Nevertheless, the storyline will once again be on Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. The two biggest superstars in the sport will face off once again, striving to prove who the best is. Though both men only have two points each entering Thursday night, you can expect each to add to their totals.
This game could go one of two ways: either an offensive showcase with 8 or 9 goals total, or a battle of the goaltenders in a saving frenzy. With the way Flower has been playing, I expect it to be the latter. The Pens have been outstanding on the penalty kill against Washington the past two seasons, allowing only 5 goals in 34 PP chances. But the Penguins power play will need to step-up, scoring only 3 goals in 24 PP chances this season, or 12.5%. During the preseason, the Pens went 7-27, or 26%, on the power play. At some point, the pucks will start to bounce and the chemistry will click. We can only hope that starts tonight. Let’s Go Pens!
~Dan @ Pittsburgh Puck Talk