The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals rivalry is reignited tonight at Capital One Arena in Washington. The Capitals may have won the most recent Stanley Cup, but they still have some catching up to do if they want to better what the Pens have done in the Sidney Crosby era. Crosby has won three Cups compared to one for Alexander Ovechkin. He also has the Gold Medals in the Olympics to show off for his efforts.
The Caps haven’t gotten off to a start that would make you believe that they are ready to win another Cup. It’s way early, but they don’t have anyone thinking that this is a team that is going to repeat. Holtby hasn’t had the kind of start that have people jumping for joy, and Copley hasn’t proved that he could be a starting goaltender if Holtby continues to struggle. Sorry Caps’ fans, Grubauer is stopping pucks for the Avalanche in Denver.
Copley did hold strong for the Capitals in their last outing, a 4-2 win over the Oilers. That ended a brief two-game skid for the Capitals. They also had losses in three out of their previous four games. The Pens and Caps head into Wednesday with nearly identical records, with the Pens at 6-4-1 and the Caps at 6-4-2. Neither have really asserted themselves like we’ve seen in past seasons.
Pittsburgh has looked slow and lethargic defensively, and the Capitals have just looked hungover defensively. Matt Murray and Holtby are expected to between the pipes on Wednesday evening in Washington. Head below for our free Penguins vs. Capitals pick.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals Pick
The Penguins are on the heels of a couple of blowouts. It wasn’t them delivering the blowouts like they’re used to either. The Maple Leafs routed them by a score of 5-0 and then the Devils had fun as sizable underdogs with a 5-1 win. The offence clearly wasn’t producing, and when that isn’t working for a team who have struggled defensively, it’s going to result in a disaster. The Pens have lost their last four games, including back-to-back losses against the Islanders.
They should have at least gotten a split out of that, but the Isles said no. The offence had been rolling previously with 20 goals in three games. Offensively they’re going to be fine, but there doesn’t appear to be relief in sight for the defence. Pittsburgh are averaging 3.54 goals per game this season, though they are allowing 3.31 goals per game to make it nearly a wash. Matt Murray has been shaky an inconsistent. He enters tonight with a 3.87 GAA and 0.886 save percentage. His numbers against the Capitals haven’t been good, too. Murray has a 3.93 GAA and 0.875 save percentage in nine games against the Caps.
The Capitals are all too familiar with what the Penguins have been going through. Similar records and similar ways of getting there. The Caps have been playing well offensively, but getting ripped in their own zone. A large part of the blame must fall with Holtby in net. He’s going into tonight with a 3.62 GAA and 0.88 save percentage. Just about on par with what Murray has been doing for the Penguins. Their first meeting this season resulted in a 7-6 win for the Pens in overtime. While it likely won’t get that high-scoring, there should be enough offence to push this matchup OVER the total.