Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Penguins

Dorcs: Now in Sidney Crosby yellow and Alex Ovechkin red!

Washington Capitals - 37-17-5 - First in SE, Second in EC
vs. Pittsburgh Penguins - 29-25-6 - Fourth in ATL, 10th in EC

Isn't it funny how history repeats itself?

The last time the Capitals faced the Penguins, they had just played a "stinker" of a game against a Western Conference foe. Looking past the Edmonton Oilers, the Capitals were berated by Coach Boudreau for a poor performance in front of the home crowd. After a punishment practice and calling out the team for "not giving their best," the Caps orchestrated a 6-3 win in Pittsburgh two days later.

Now the Capitals face the Penguins after a similar situation. Turning in what is easily the third worst game of the year (first goes to the Flyers 7-1 loss and second to the Buffalo 5-0 loss) against yet at another Western Conference team.

A few more poor efforts by the Caps and Coach Boudreau will have a punishment drill named after him ala Herb Brooks' "Herbies."

The Capitals are known for bouncing back after bad losses, and hopefully the trend holds true today.

While the storyline of the January meeting of the Caps and Pens was "Semin vs. Crosby, Ovechkin vs. Malkin," that has been brushed aside as the marquee players are seemingly friendly to each other.

The story now is how the Capitals and Penguins have literally reversed roles in the span of a year.

In 2008, the Capitals had a new head coach that was called up from the AHL team and were clawing to stay alive in the playoff race. The Penguins, on the other hand, were cruising to a Atlantic Division title and Evgeni Malkin was the spearhead of the Pens' success.

Now the Capitals are cruising to a Southeast Division title with Alex Ovechkin leading the charge again. It's the Pens, the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals runner-ups, who are hoping to stay relevant in late March, and they're doing it with a new coach from Wilkes-Barre Scranton, Dan Bylsma.

The Capitals lead the series 2-0, but that's not to say the Penguins haven't been a formidable opponent. Both games required that the Capitals come from behind, and both games were on the road. Given that this is the first game at the Verizon Center of the teams' four games, it's going to be interesting to see how red the crowd is.

The Penguins may be troubled as of late and their postseason future is in their hands, making them a determined and dangerous team. If the Capitals can't "get up" for this game, then the Penguins will likely run away with it. Just because they've struggled as of late doesn't mean they can't be a gigantic thorn in the Capitals butt, like they always are.

Sid the Kid makes dreams come true
Aww shucks, you can only "hate" a guy so much. The Penguins granted a special wish for a terminal child and it's one of the coolest sports-related "make a wish" stories out there. Check it out.

Coming in strong
The Penguins just defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in a tough physical game. That game was at 1 p.m. Saturday, so while it's easy to say "oh they will be tired," remember that this is a set of two games against hated rivals. If the Caps take the Pens for granted...let's not think about that.

Our commercials rock, the Pens commercials...just plain suck.
For the past two seasons the Capitals commercials and promo videos feature hip, trendy "rock stars." The Penguins decided that a song about coming home sung by what could be your grandfather was a better idea. This is why we are not friends, we just don't see eye to eye on hockey or rock n' roll.

Dan Bylsma vs. Brendan Shanahan
Interim Pens coach Dan Bylsma had an NHL career of his own as a member of the Mighty Ducks. While his playing days are over, he did have a fight partner who's now in the Atlantic Division as a New Jersey Devil, trying to keep him out of the playoffs, Brendan Shanahan. Check out his fight with him.


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