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Pittsburgh vs. Washington Preview

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

THE FUNDAMENTALS
Pittsburgh Penguins (2-1-1-5) vs. Washington Capitals (2-1-0-4)

Where: Mellon Arena
When: Thursday, October 16, 7:38 p.m.
Radio: WXDX Radio, FM 105.9
TV: FSN Pittsburgh, the game will be broadcast in HD, available on Armstrong 179, Atlantic Broadband 782, Citizen 737, Comcast 226/774, DISH 428 and DirecTV 659.
Note: The “Trib Total Media Penguins Faceoff Festival 2008” will be held outside on Mario Lemieux place, starting at 5 p.m. For fans without tickets, a 9’ x 12’ LED screen will be set up outside the arena.
 
PENGUINS PROJECTED LINES RELATED CONTENT
Forwards
Dupuis-Crosby-Satan
Staal-Malkin-Sykora
Fedotenko-Talbot-Kennedy
Cooke-Zigomanis-Godard

Defense
Orpik-Letang
Gill-Scuderi
Eaton-Goligoski

Goalkeeper
Fleury
  Live Pregame Show @ 6:45
Trib Toal Media Minute 10/16
Crosby 10/16
Crosby vs. Ovechkin (nhl.com)
Therrien Press 10/15
Dupuis Locker 10/15
Crosby Locker 10/15
Fleury Locker 10/15
  Pens vs Caps - March 9, 2008
Where to start -- 'Ovie' or 'The Kid'?
Cooke's Rubbed Elbows with Ovechkin, Crosby
 
KEYS TO VICTORY
Contain Ovechkin: It's difficult to completely shut down Alexander Ovechkin, especially when he's put up 15 points (6G-9A) in 12 career games against the Penguins. Pittsburgh must be aware of his presence at all times and limit his opportunities.

Get Crosby Going: Crosby is still only one goal shy of reaching 100 in his career. He's had success against the Capitals in the past, registering 19 points (7G-12A) in 11 games. Crosby's had numerous scoring chances this season but has yet to notch 100. It's only a matter of time before he gets there.

Special Teams: Pittsburgh has scored a power play goal in three straight games. They've converted three of their last 11 opportunities. The Penguins penalty killing unit has successfully defended their last 10 attempts.
 
LOWDOWN ON THE CAPITALS
The Southeast Division champion Washington Capitals travel to Pittsburgh riding a two-game winning streak for their first showdown with the Penguins this season. Head coach Bruce Boudreau starts his first full season steering the ship. Boudreau was last season’s Jack Adams Award winner – Coach of the Year – after taking over the team in late November and leading the Capitals in one of the most dramatic mid-season turnarounds in recent history –  from the worst record in the league to a division title and playoff berth. Many publications and pundits around the league are picking Washington as the dark-horse favorite. However, the team still has depth issues that may be too much to overcome, even for a team as skilled as the Capitals.
 
FORWARDS
As Crosby is to Pittsburgh, Ovechkin is to Washington. In fact, the arrival of Ovechkin and Crosby reignited the Penguins-Capitals rivalry. What else is there to say about Ovechkin that hasn’t already been said? He’s the league’s biggest diva with his tinted visor, long hair and flashy celebrations. Not to mention he has his own clothing line (seriously, check it out at oviestyle.com). But the man simply brings it on the ice. He walked away with four trophies last season – Hart, Lester B. Pearson, Art Ross and Maurice Richard – after posting 112 points with 65 goals and 47 assists. He’s a threat every time the puck is on his stick. Ovechkin shoots from impossible angles and is the deadliest sniper in the league.

Ovechkin would trade in all of his trophies for the NHL’s ultimate hardware. But it takes a strong supporting cast to win the league’s holiest grail. Alexander Semin is a legitimate All-Star caliber player. He would get more attention if Ovechkin weren’t on his team. Since re-emerging in the NHL, Semin has 121 points (67G-54A) in 123 games. Nicklas Backstrom is entering his second NHL season after posting 69 points (14G-55A) in his rookie campaign. The former fourth-overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft was a runner-up for the Calder Trophy – Rookie of the Year – and recorded a four-assist game against the Penguins on Jan. 21. The team also employs veteran forwards Sergei Federov, Michael Nylander and Viktor Kozlov. They’ll need contributions from everyone to defend their division title.
 
DEFENSE
Washington’s offense gets a lot of the attention – and deservedly so – but the defense is one of the most underrated units in the league. The team could always score but it was their defensive improvement that catapulted their turnaround last season. The Capitals held the Vancouver Canucks to only 10 shots in the entire game last Monday. Mike Green became one of the deadliest scoring defenseman in the league. Last season, the 23-year-old Calgary native recorded 18 goals and 38 assists for 56 points. In the first three games of this season, Green already has five points (3G-2A). Tom Poti settled in nicely in his first season with the club. The team lost Steve Eminger in free agency but believes that youngster Shaone Morrisonn can fill his void.
 
GOALTENDING
The Capitals had instability at the goalkeeper position last season, waiting for one of three men to establish themselves. Now, Olaf Kolzig and Cristobal Huet departed via free agency. Brent Johnson finds himself once again a backup with the team’s acquisition of former league MVP and Vezina winner Jose Theodore. He is looking to resurrect his career after a few subpar seasons. He appeared to rebound last season going 28-21-3 with a 2.44 goals against average and .910 save percentage. He was shaky in his first start at Atlanta, giving up four goals on 17 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period. Theodore responded by making 19 saves in a 4-2 win over Chicago.
 
NEW FACES
Washington lost goaltenders Kolzig and Huet, defenseman Eminger and left winger Matt Cooke (to Pittsburgh) in free agency. Theodore was the only offseason addition the team made but if Theodore can play like he did a few years ago, Washington will make a deep playoff run.
 
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: ALEXANDER SEMIN
Everyone is quite familiar with Ovechkin at this point, and he may be the most dynamic player in the league. However, Alexander Semin is quietly establishing himself as a superstar hiding in the shadows (a la Jagr under Lemieux). In fact, Semin is leading the team with six points (3G-3A), registering a point in all three games on the season. Ovechkin will get the headlines, but Semin may be just as lethal.
 
"THEY SAID IT"
"There's always those comparisons. We're past that now. We're both focused on our teams and on the game itself than on me versus him."
- Sidney Crosby on the rivalry with Alexander Ovechkin
 
HIDDEN STAT(S)
10-1-1: Pittsburgh’s record in its last 12 games against Washington.
 


Author: Sam Kasan

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