The last few meetings between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals have been somewhat less exciting than some of their earlier clashes.
For one, the “rivalry” between superstars Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby has cooled off in recent memory, with Ovi struggling to find a consistent scoring touch, while Crosby has upheld his reputation as the best player in the world.
Thankfully for these two teams as well as the NHL, it appears that #8 has regained his all-world form from a few seasons back, and is ready to once again compete with Crosby for the title of best player in the world. He is currently tied for first in goals with 17, while Crosby’s 26 points in 21 games are tied for the league lead with Alex Steen of the St. Louis Blues.
From a team-wide perspective, this matchup is just as interesting as it ever was, maybe even more so now that Washington has joined Pittsburgh in the newly formed Metropolitan division.
Pittsburgh has struggled offensively as of late, although they are coming off of a marquee win against western powerhouse Anaheim.
Star center Evgeni Malkin has not scored a goal in 11 straight games, however many believe that he is beginning to find his stride and will soon be playing his best hockey of the season.
Coach Dan Bylsma recently switched up the Penguins line combinations with favorable results. Instead of being rotated between the second and third lines, winger Beau Bennett was moved up to the first line with Sidney Crosby, while the struggling Pascal Dupuis was put on the second line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. Both Dupuis and Bennet have been somewhat disappointing this season, and if the Penguins are to find success against a deep Capitals team, secondary scoring will be key.
Playing smart and avoiding the penalty box is a key aspect of any teams success, however it’s importance is amplified when you play a team like the Capitals. Washington is second in the league in power play percentage, a sizzling 24.4 percent. They lead the league in total power play goals with 21, and have made a habit out of making teams pay with the man advantage.
One thing is for sure: tonight’s two stars will show up to play.
In the 25 games in which Crosby and Ovechkin have faced off against each other, Crosby has 14 goals and points, while Ovechkin has 17 goals and 32 points, leaving Crosby’s PPG average of 1.72 well above Ovi’s average of 1.28.
No matter the outcome, tonight’s tilt between two of the games most dynamic forwards is bound to be an entertaining one.
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