Washington Capitals (31-19-10, 72pts) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (36-19-5, 77pts)
Season Series: Washington leads 2-1
TV: Versus | 7:30 p.m. |
Pens-Caps set for Pivotal Matchup
The Pittsburgh Penguins (36-19-5, 77pts) got a valuable point in Sunday afternoon’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. It was a game where the Penguins were badly outplayed but again gutted out a point.
The Penguins who boast a current lineup that lacks any kind of scoring punch, continue to be a tough out on a nightly basis and have found ways to maintain when it comes to their playoff positioning, despite featuring a depleted lineup for several weeks now.
The Penguins enter Monday with a 5 point lead over the Washington Capitals (31-19-10, 72pts) for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference as the Penguins and Capitals meet for a pivotal matchup tonight in Pittsburgh.
A win for Pittsburgh would move them 7 points ahead of Washington and 10 points ahead of No. 6 Montreal. Even without Sidney Crosby, a 7 point lead with just around 20 games left is a big lead to have over Washington. Also of importance is Washington leads the season series 2-1 as the Penguins look to tie the season series at 2-2,
The Penguins also remain in striking distance in catching the Philadelphia Flyers (39-15-5, 81pts) for the division lead. However, catching Philadelphia remains a major longshot.
The Penguins though remain locked in for a top-5 seed as the regular season is entering the stretch run. Right now they are in the driver seat for home-ice in the first round.
Pre-Game Buzz
— The Penguins are holding an optional skate this morning at the Consol Energy Center. There has yet to be any official word on Jordan Staal who took a slap shot to his lower jaw in yesterday’s game.
Staal was expected to be re-evaluated this morning once the swelling went down but he is believed to be fine.
Updated: Jordan Staal did not skate but will play, according to Bylsma.
— Dustin Jeffrey and Mark Letestu are on the ice right now going through individual workouts. Jeffrey will return to the lineup this week but neither player is expected to play tonight.
Jeffrey is expected to return at somepoint this week and Mark Letestu’s skating looks very good.
Meanwhile, Mike Comrie who is recovering from hip surgery, is going through a light skate this morning.
This is the first time I’ve seen him on the ice and he’s regarded as being about 6 weeks away and has not been ruled out yet to be available in April for the playoffs. However, that’s an optimistic estimate, considering the time it’s going to take him to get into game shape.
— Chris Kunitz appears to be a possibility to play tonight. He’s very close to returning.
Updated: Kunitz skated in euipment today but will not play. He should return Wednesday night.
— One player’s availability to keep an eye on is Paul Martin’s who was banged up after getting hit from behind on a no-call yesterday.
Updated: – Dan Bylsma said today that Martin is a game time decision.
— Marc Andre Fleury will make back-to-back starts and he’s also expected to start Wednesday night.