The Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins’ series just took an interesting turn. In Game 3, the Penguins were dealt a couple of blows. They lost the game in overtime after clawing back to tie it up in a minute with minutes remaining in the 3rd period.
This was following the injury to Sidney Crosby, which happened as a result of a crosscheck delivered by Matt Niskanen to the head of Crosby. Niskanen received a 10-minute major and ejection, but he will be suiting up tonight after the NHL decided there will be no suspension.
Crosby received a shove from Ovechkin, which in turn, sent him careening towards Niskanen who finished it up with his stick. There are supporters of both sides, and I tend to agree with those who think there should be a suspension.
If this were the regular season, Niskanen would be gone for a few games. However, because it’s the playoffs and the NHL is banking on a long series between the Capitals and Penguins, I think they were a little more lenient with their decision to keep Niskanen around for Game 4.
Crosby will not be playing in Game 4, but Niskanen will. That alone is going to evoke some reaction from Penguins’ fans. If the Penguins lose tonight, it would set up a scenario where the Capitals can take a series lead all the sudden in Washington.
What looked like a potential sweep in favor of the Penguins, has quickly turned into a tricky situation for Pittsburgh. It isn’t a must-win situation for the Pens, but it’s a VERY important Game 4 for them. A loss will set-up a 2-2 series heading back to Washington. Are the Capitals going to lose three in a row at home? They could, but it’s something that might be difficult for the Pens to pull off. Read our additional thoughts, and get the Capitals vs. Penguins Game 4 pick below.
Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Game 4 Pick
Crosby is out, but are the Pens out? Not necessarily. If history says anything, the Penguins are not going to turn into roadkill. They actually hold an impressive record without Crosby, 97-52-19. It makes for a 0.634 winning percentage, compared to 0.614 with him in the lineup. No, it doesn’t mean that the Penguins are actually a better team without him on the roster, it just simply means that they can still win when he’s out. More attention will undoubtedly be placed on Malkin in Game 4 and for as long as the Pens are in the playoffs.
The Capitals got the offence rolling thanks to the power-play. They were on the receiving end of back-to-back Pittsburgh penalties, which equated to a puck in the back of the Penguins’ net. Note, that the Penguins also had a goal disallowed because of goaltender interference.
The Penguins may have needed two late goals to force overtime, but they were playing just as good as the Caps. The odds makers have reacted heavily to the news of Crosby. They’re inserting the Penguins as underdogs in Game 4. Even with Crosby absent, it’s hard not to take a team who are 34-6-3 at home as dogs. The Game 4 pick has to be on the Penguins here.
PICK: PENGUINS (+105)