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Tonight on NBCSN: Penguins-Capitals is now a battle to get in the playoffs

Jan 11, 2012, 7:38 AM EDT

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals Getty Images

It wasn’t that long ago that a Penguins-Capitals game would be circled by lovers and haters everywhere as the one to watch. Tonight’s game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET) instead shapes up as one between teams looking to stay in the top eight in the Eastern Conference.

There’s still stars to be found even without Sidney Crosby. Alex Ovechkin is there for Washington although Nicklas Backstrom is still questionable after getting elbowed in the face by Rene Bourque. Evgeni Malkin is still scoring goals for Pittsburgh while Jordan Staal and Crosby are out. James Neal‘s broken foot isn’t as broken as they thought it was and he’s still out there.

The sad part here though is that you don’t get the same buzz on this game that you used to.

The Pens are coming off a humbling loss at the hands of the Senators last night while the Caps are back at home after getting whooped on a short west coast trip that saw them lose back-to-back games 5-2 to the Kings and Sharks. When you look at the standings and expect to see the Caps and Pens at the top of the East, it’s a bit stunning to see them hovering around eighth and tenth instead. What a difference a year makes.

Seeing these two duke it out as the class of the East in the past brought the best out of both of them. Perhaps seeing them fight it out for a spot in the postseason can do likewise as they’ll see each other again in 11 days on NBC.

  1. jpelle82 - Jan 11, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    hate to say it, but its not looking good for the pens. unless they get healthy quick their division and the games ahead dont bode well for them.

  2. xxshookonexx - Jan 11, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Would be great if both teams didnt make the playoffs. Just sayin’

    • dmacirish - Jan 11, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      i have to say i kind of agree with you because as a flyers fan i love hating on the pens and the caps. that being said there is nothing more that i love then knocking them out of the playoffs so i have some mixed emotions.
      there is another thing and i think this might have been where you are headed – the rangers? NBC loves crosby and then pens, have almost as much love for alex and his caps. this is pretty obvious when you look at the lone article on their website of the team leading the NHL in points right now (http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/45951495/ns/sports-nhl/). scroll down the article and you have links to “sid the kid” and “alex the great” – plus the icy hot girls which i am not complaining about at all. please remember that i am a flyers fan,i will have to watch a few lappy history will be made videos in repentence for the next sentence, but cmon nbc lets put some focus on the guys which are at the top like the rangers not the ones you think will sell your sunday afternoon games.

      • xxshookonexx - Jan 11, 2012 at 12:51 PM

        Agreed, especially since “sid the kid” may not be back for a while (somewhere Marc Savard is smiling) and the whole Caps / Pens “rivalry” (to me) seems contrived.

      • mordock57 - Jan 11, 2012 at 5:05 PM

        xxshookonexx… As a Pens fan for nearly 30 years, I can assure you, the Pens-Cap rivalry is far from contrived. Remember, both teams were in the Patrick Division for over ten years together. Virtually every playoff run I can remember growing up somehow involved a dramatic win or a crushing loss in a series against the Caps. It was like we couldn’t avoid them in the playoffs. Fast forward to 2009 playoffs… once again, another dramatic series Game 7 finish against, who else… the Caps. Trust me… Pens and Caps fans’ hatred for each other’s teams is quite real. :)

  3. dcfan4life - Jan 11, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    With so many games left in the season, and considering the talent on both squads, id be very suprised if both didn’t make the playoffs. The caps especially since there only 4 points back and are behind Florida and Winnipeg. And remember the Capitals ALWAYS make a late season push to win the division. And its the Penguins. Both teams will be fine.

    • jpelle82 - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      caps havent had any competition in their division in a while, they usually have it won by february. i can see them pulling it off and getting a 3 seed before i see the pens creep in a 7th or 8th spot even

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