This summer, Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle put the Pittsburgh Penguins up for sale, and the price is steep: $750 million, which would be more than double the league record set in 2013. But there’s lots going for the Pens: they have a brand new arena (Consol Energy Center), a dedicated (and trashy) fan base, and three of the best players in the league: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel.
Over the weekend, one group established itself as a front runner to buy the team: Flyers fans!
I didn’t like this game and I don’t like you. I like only my dog and tacos. Everything else sucks, starting with the Caps, then followed by the weather, and then back to the Caps again,. Let’s get this over with quickly.
Instead of sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the regular-season series, the Capitals played maybe their worst game of the season. There were glimmers of awesome, but they were islanded in a stream of suck.
It was all Pens early, and then Patrick Hornqvist finally made the Caps pay for their carelessness. The Pens got ornery after that, but the Caps didn’t convert on the penalties. Instead, Matt Niskanen made a bad drop to an out-of-position Andre Burakovsky, so Brendan Sutter secured a shorthanded goal. John Carlson gave us something to be proud of late in the period with a sweet shot, but we knew this game wasn’t going well.
It only got worse in the second period’s penalty parade. That frame featured seven Capitals penalties, though it resulted in only one goal: Sidney Crosby’s slick wrister. His first point against the Caps this season.
Chimera and Brouwer crashed the net early in the third to make it a one-goal game, but Chris Kunitz thoroughly outworked Evgeny Kuznetsov to deflate our balloon. Late, Alex Ovechkin showed a glimpse of life with an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot. It wasn’t enough, but it was something not to hate about tonight.
In three meetings this season, the Capitals have outscored the Penguins 10-1. Inside the Metro, only Carolina has a worse intra-division record than the Penguins (7-11-4). Crosby’s reportedly having an off-year, and the fans are quite grumpy.
And none of that matters tonight.
The Penguins are still an excellent team. Crosby’s decline is mostly meaningless statistical noise; he’s still the best playmaker in the league, and the team’s record against the Metro doesn’t tell me much about who’s gonna win tonight. Like every game, this one will be decided by who’s got the better goalie and which team helps him out the most. I peeked at the Caps’ lines, and I think it’ll be the home team who wins this one and secures a regular-season sweep for the first time in five years.
Eight days ago, Alex Ovechkin slashed Kris Letang in the ankles. Ovechkin claimed he was trying to shoot a loose puck at the net. Instead Letang fell dangerously into the end boards. Ovechkin was not whistled for a penalty and Letang left the game briefly.
The Penguins, rattled, lost focus on the two points. Instead, they spent the third period doling out cheap shots to Ovechkin and the Capitals, dispensing frontier justice rather than trying to win.
The fans followed their team’s lead. A Penguins fan poured beer on the Ovechkin and trainer Greg Smith during a stoppage in play.
The Capitals kept their eyes on the prize. They scored two goals in the third period, one from Joel Ward and an empty netter from John Carlson, to win 3-1.
I know you can’t print out GIFs and pin them to a bulletin board, but I hope the Caps remember how Pittsburgh played last week. Here’s a reminder.
On February 17, 2015, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
The rivalry is back. After two games in which the Washington Capitals obliterated the Pittsburgh Penguins, we actually had a contest this time. The Caps and Pens were perfectly matched for forty minutes. Then they went bananas on each other.
Alex Ovechkin opened us up with a thrilling breakaway goal after a bad Pittsburgh line change. Things were looking great for the visitors until Steve Downie of all freaking people crashed the net to end Braden Holtby’s shutout streak over Pittsburgh after 143 minutes.
The third period went to hell as Ovechkin slashed Letang and the refs forgot how to do their jobs, but no one scored until the Penguins lost control. During five-on-three, Nick Backstrom sent a great pass to Joel Ward, eagerly waiting on the weak side. John Carlson sealed the deal with an empty-netter from like 170 feet away. Oh yes.
The Capitals have had the Penguins number so far this season, and that number is zero. In 120 minutes of hockey, Washington has outscored Pittsburgh seven goals to none.
But the Penguins of February 17 are healthier than previous versions, and Holtby has been averaging 3 goals against over the last 10 days. It’d be a nice trick to end the road trip with another blowout over a division rival, but the Caps are gonna have to bring the ruckus to get it done.
The lineup makes me think they might pull it off. Puck drop at 7 PM on CSN.
That’s a pretty impressive run for the Caps. Here’s each Metro team’s record from December 4 to February 6.
A few days removed from Adam’s tweet, the Caps now sit three points behind the Islanders and two behind the Penguins. Let’s take a look, at the team level, at some of the possible underlying factors behind the Caps’ substantial gains in the standings since early December.
First off, nobody’s panicking here. I said NOBODY’S PANICKING HERE but maybe just a teensy and perhaps a little urgency might be good?
Last night, playing against the Blue Jackets and their preposterous annoying cannons (can we dump those in a river pleeeease), we didn’t see as much of the sloppy play visited upon us since mid-January. Still, we did see too many penalties and overall our game still isn’t looking as tight as it had been looking. Time for a little more yelling we think, Coach Trotz.