Washington Capitals (29-15-5) at Pittsburgh Penguins (27-21-3)
Friday, February 2nd at 7 EST – ATTSN-PT, NBCSWA
This is a constant rivalry in the NHL taking center stage in the regular season as well as many occasions in the playoffs. Although the Penguins haven’t been as dominate this year as they have been in years past, that doesn’t matter when it comes to this rivalry. Both teams seem to be on even ground whenever they get together and it is truly exciting for everyone.
The Washington Capitals may have the better record up to their meeting on Friday night but the Penguins aren’t far behind. The Capitals will surely have their hands full when it comes to this meeting. For the Capitals, two things are going to have to go right. Star power in Alex Ovechkin and goaltending from Braden Holtby.
The speed of the Penguins is often too much for teams to handle but if Ovechkin can take the wind out of their sails with a quick goal (or two), the Capitals could be in good shape. On the other end of the ice, Holtby will have to make some key saves. Getting in front of shots from players like Guentzel, Kessel, Malkin and Crosby will be tremendous for Holtby’s own confidence and the confidence of his entire team.
For the Pittsburgh Penguins, the name of the game is their powerplay. The Penguins have the best powerplay in the NHL and if they can get the Capitals to take penalties, the Penguins have proven they can convert on these mistakes. Powerplays will be crucial to the success of the team not only in this game but in future games as well because it seems to be a huge factor to their offensive production.
The Penguins superstars on offense will need to come out of the gates firing if they want to bury a Capitals team that seems to rely on momentum to defeat talented teams. This is no difficult task for a Penguins team that currently ranks 14th in goals per game at 2.9. There is a lot of fire power on this team and having the home ice in this tilt could be a big boost to a team that already knows every point is crucial following the All-Star break.
I think this will be an offensively potent game as both teams are so talented through their forward lineup. The list of names goes on and on when discussing goal scorers between these two clubs. Defense has a habit of taking the backseat in these Penguins, Capitals matchups.
My prediction is 5-3 Capitals over the Penguins. Ovechkin will score at least once and take center stage as he does on a regular occasion when it comes to big time meetings. However, the Penguins shouldn’t be counted out as that 5-3 score could easily be flipped in favor of Pittsburgh. This will be an exciting game as these teams always are even when they aren’t playing each other.