Jan 11, 2012, 10:44 PM EDT
Sure, both the Washington Capitals (Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (almost everyone but Evgeni Malkin) are banged up right now, but rarely do the two teams play a game that means nothing.
The Capitals’ 1-0 win wasn’t exactly full of fireworks, but it had an interesting impact on the short-term standings. If the playoffs began tonight, Washington would be the eighth seed while the Penguins would be getting reacquainted with their golf games at ninth in the East.
Maybe the most promising sign for the Capitals – and conversely, the troubling one for Pittsburgh – is that Tomas Vokoun looked like the game-changer they signed last summer. The Czech netminder stopped all 30 Penguins shots, recording what Stephen Whyno argues is his best performance of a bumpy season.
Caps fans shouldn’t get too excited about blanking the Penguins, though – and not just because it’s only one game. Blame it on injuries or not but the worn out Penguins have scored just six goals during a six-game (0-6-0) losing streak.
(The injury to go to that insult is the zero in that final category; the Penguins scrapped their way to quite a few “charity points” without Sidney Crosby and Malkin last season.)
The Capitals only fired 20 shots on net, but Alex Ovechkin & Co. took advantage of a tired Penguins team for a promising (though scoreless) third period. Ultimately, all they needed was a beautiful Jason Chimera first period goal to win, but the mere result wasn’t the only thing that was promising.
Both teams have seen each other during more prosperous times but make no mistake about it; the Capitals were likely overjoyed to stick the knife a little deeper in their foes.
Here’s the post-game interview with Mike Knuble:
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