Pens/Caps Gameday Notes
It’s not something I noticed until today, but the Capitals are a staunch 10-0-2 in the last 12 regular season games against the Penguins.
Maybe the Penguins can flip that fortune tonight, as Sidney Crosby makes his return to the Verizon Center for the first time since his season-ending concussion in last years Winter Classic.
We don’t know much about how the Capitals look with Dale Hunter at the helm. In their 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, the Capitals played a rather simplistic 1-2-2 trap.
That being said, it’s difficult for a coach to implement a new system entirely in less than 48 hours, so I’m expecting the Penguins should see a bit of a change from that rather simplistic defensive style the Capitals played on Monday.
I like the Penguins being on the road tonight. The ironic thing about Dan Bylsma’s forcheck is that it’s a road forcheck that can be played at home too. So often times, the Penguins aren’t seeing a huge deviation in the way they play on the road or at home.
But there’s going to be some pressure in the Verizon Center tonight, players and coach are still becoming familiar with each other, all the eyes in the NHL are watching, I am excited to see how the Penguins can harness that and put the Capitals on their heels early.
In the first game of the season, Tomas Vokoun was stellar in the net. The Penguins dominated every facet of the game but succumbed to a 4 on 3 goal in overtime to seal the deal for the Capitals.
In fact, even dating back to the 7 game series against the Capitals, the Penguins have dominated most of the games like they did Game 1 this season, without producing the win results in regulation.
It appears we’ll see the debut tonight of Simon Despres. The Horse was recalled by the Penguins and should be in the lineup tonight making his NHL debut.
Regardless, for the Penguins, the recipe should remain the same. Get the puck deep, forcheck, play 60/40 hockey, and grind the Capitals defense down. If they can play most of their hockey in the Capitals offensive zone tonight, it won’t matter that we have two rookie’s as the 5/6 pair. Matchups are key tonight, Hunter is not a new coach, but perhaps Bylsma can work the 2nd change to his advantage tonight and have Ovechkin limited in his time against Despres.
Make sure you stay tuned tomorrow for Mike’s game grades and a systematic look at how the Capitals changed their style of play against Pittsburgh tonight.