Tonight‚Äôs matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins (21-19-4) and Washington Capitals ( 27-14-3) has no shortage of story lines.
Story Line 1: Malkin vs Ovechkin Feud
It has become clear over the past year that the former Russian roommates do not get along. Alexander Ovechkin goes out of his way time and time again to hit Malkin. Malkin addressed the issue saying “Ovechkin is a great player, but every time he hits me – I don’t know why,.‚Äù While Malkin and Ovechkin remain mostly quiet on the issue, it is believed it all stems back to Russian reports that Ovechkin took a swing at Malkin’s Russian agent, Gennady Ushakov, in a Moscow night club.
Ovechkin denies the story but Evgeni Malkin confirmed to the Tribune ‚Äì Review in November that it happened calling it a “bad situation.”
Story Line 2: ‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs so special about Crosby‚Äù
Capitals forward Alexander Semin sounded off on Sidney Crosby in October about the NHL overhyping Sidney Crosby. Semin had this to say — ” What’s so special about Crosby? I don’t see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there’s nothing else. Even if you compare him to Patrick Kane from Chicago. Kane is a much more interesting player. The way he moves, his deking abilities, his thinking on the ice and his anticipation of the play is so superb.I think that if you take any player, even if he is “dead wood,” and start promoting him, you’ll get a star.‚Äù
Story Line 3: The two Rivals are going in different directions
While the Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin rivalry is great theater, the main story line is the Capitals and Penguins are going in different directions. Both teams came into the season with heavy expectations and to this point the Capitals not the Penguins are the team meeting those expectations. The Capitals are in the midst of a three game losing streak but they are currently 2nd in the Eastern Conference while Pittsburgh is tied for 9th place in the East. Pittsburgh coming off of a 4-2 win against the Flyers Tuesday night has all the motivation they need for tonight‚Äôs game.
Penguins need to respond to Ovechkin’s antics
If Ovechkin continues to go out of his way to stir things up with Malkin, the Penguins need to respond. Sending Eric Godard after him is not the answer but with having the last line change, the Penguins could put Bissonnette up against Ovechkin on a face-off just to keep him honest.
Lineup News: The Penguins did not hold a morning skate but it is expected that the coaching staff will go with the same lineup. Pascal Dupuis will be held out for another game or two.
Cooke – Crosby – Malkin
Minard – Staal – Sykora
Satan – Talbot – Kennedy
Bissonnette – Jeffrey – Godard
Orpik – Whitney
Scuderi – Letang
Gill – Goligoski
Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal