An early season battle between two of the NHL’s premier players highlights Wednesday night on the ice. Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin meet up for another edition of their rivalry. It is always a must watch game when the Penguins and Capitas clash and it may be even more so tonight. Simply because the Pens have long had the upper-hand in this series. Not only in the series, but the Penguins have been superior overall in the NHL. Crosby has the hardware to show for it, Ovechkin not so much. Even international play Crosby has been one up on Ovechkin. However, thus far this season, the Capitals have looked like one of the best teams in the NHL. Other than the Montreal Canadiens, the Caps have looked like the best team in the league. It would be a nice way to continue the good vibes with a win over Crosby and the Penguins. They need to kick them while they’re down.
We’re not so sure if this is going to last, so the Capitals need to take advantage of it while the Pens are going through a rough time. Conversely, a win for the Penguins over the Capitals would be a nice way to get into gear. The Penguins are currently 4-4 compared to the Caps 6-1. With the addition of Phil Kessel in the offseason, we were expected the Penguins to have more punch on offense. Offense is just about all Phil Kessel can do. While he was criticized the majority of the time in his career as a Toronto Maple Leafs, there is no denying that Kessel can score the puck, when he puts a good effort forth. When he plays lazy there is when the criticism comes in. Kessel was able to score a critical goal over the Nashville Predators in OT to win their last game. Kessel hasn’t been the problem for the Penguins though, but somebody else on the roster hasn’t been doing his part so far in 2015.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals Pick
You can’t blame this slow start on Phil Kessel. You can’t blame it on Sidney Crosby either, but there is no denying that Crosby has been in one of the bigger ruts of his career. We haven’t even hit November yet so I have no doubts that he is going to open it up and go on a tear eventually. Another reason for the slow start might be the departure of Brandon Sutter to the Canucks. Sutter has been playing well for the Canucks and would be a nice player to have on the ice right now for the Penguins. The Pens have a lot of talent, they are going to put it together, I just think they aren’t gelling yet. They moved Kessel off the Crosby line, so we’ll see if they have different results. Right now, the Penguins are averaging only 2 goals per game.
On the other side of the ice, it’s been a polar opposite. The Capitals have had the most potent offense in the NHL, something people typically associate with Ovechkin. The Caps have averaged 4.8 goals over their last five games on their five game win streak. In total, they have scored 4.14 goals a game. Washington would love nothing more than to keep this going against the Pens. They scored a whopping 7 goals in their last game. No game this season for the Capitals has ended with less than 5 goals. The Pens offense hasn’t been great, but they have scored at least 2 goals in three of their last four games. I also suspect variance begins to kick in and they will get back to their average soon. I like the OVER 5.
PICK: OVER 5 GOALS (-120)