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NHL on NBCSN: Desperate Capitals face Penguins

Mar 19, 2013, 8:02 AM EDT

Crosby and Ovechkin Getty Images

NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Washington Capitals at the Consol Energy Center at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Just how bleak are Washington’s playoff chances at this point? If you believe that it will take 54 points to make the playoffs (about the equivalent of 92 points in a normal season), then Washington needs to go 15-4-1 for the rest of the campaign just to secure a postseason birth.

So when Alex Ovechkin told the Washington Post that how they play this week could make or break their season, he was being accurate.

“It’s pretty much must-win now till the end of the year,” Capitals forward Mathieu Perreault acknowledged.

And you can bet their long-time rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, would love to put one of the final nails in the Capitals’ coffins.

These days it seems that the rivalry between Sidney Crosby and Ovechkin has faded in the public eye. It hasn’t helped that the Washington Capitals have come under hard times over the past couple of years.

Ovechkin certainly has taken a lot of heat in recent years too and even though he is still one of the best in the game, Crosby still has more than double his 2013 points total so far.

Washington has also done a poor job of containing Crosby. They have surrendered six points to him in their two losses against Pittsburgh this season and 41 points in 24 career contests.

Still, despite having won nine games in a row, the Capitals might be facing the Penguins at an opportune time. Star forward Evgeni Malkin has missed five straight contests with an upper body injury and top defenseman Kris Letang suffered a lower body injury on Sunday.

It remains to be seen if the Penguins will be without both players, but at this point, the Capitals can use any advantage they can get. After all, even if they beat the Penguins today, they still have to win roughly three-fourths of their remaining contests.

Probable goaltenders: PIT – Marc-Andre Fleury (15-5-0, 2.45 GAA, .909 SV%) | WAS – Braden Holtby (10-9-0, 2.97 GAA, .908 SV%)

Top scorers: PIT – Crosby (13-35-48, 30 GP) | WAS – Mike Ribeiro (10-21-31, 28 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Pittsburgh – Forwards: Malkin (upper body) Defensemen: Letang (lower body)
Washington – Forwards: Brooks Laich (groin) Defensemen: Tomas Kundratek (leg), John Erskine (upper body), Mike Green (groin)

  1. spavs412 - Mar 19, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    Let’s go pens I wanna see 10!!

  2. hockeywithdrawal - Mar 19, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    I think this will be another great game – the Pens are playing their forwards more defensively to stop the shots from the crease (as evidenced by the lower SA lately) but against the Bruins we only got 18 shots off total. I think they need to keep playing defensively but find a way to pepper Holtby also…he’s let in some soft ones against us. Hopefully he will again – go Pens!

    • hockeywithdrawal - Mar 19, 2013 at 8:55 AM

      Sorry – lower goals against – not shots against.

    • rg3isvictory - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      I wouldn’t disagree with that strategy if I was a Pens fan consider that Holtby has let about a half goal more per game than Fleury even though they both have a similar save percentage. What I anticipate, based on the Caps history of late, is that the Caps won’t show up after having a pretty good game, prior. Not having Malkin & Letang should make Things easier on the Caps. At the very least, win, lose or draw, if the Caps show up and play their bums off, I’ll
      Be content. It’s good for Hockey to have the OVI/Crosby and Caps/Pens rivalry. Plus, the Caps are wearing Americas colors!!!

      • jpelle82 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:15 AM

        you mean its good for washington to have caps/pens rivalry. pens have a real rivalry already, caps fans need something to get excited about i guess…there is no ovechkin/crosby anything anymore…not anywhere near each other anymore

      • blackfoot11 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:18 AM

        The Caps just need to go play their a**es off and stay out of the box. Its the Pens and they shouldn’t need any motivation for their rivals.

      • hockeywithdrawal - Mar 19, 2013 at 6:30 PM

        Agreed, my friend – a good game is all I’m hoping for!

    • eigglesnosuperbowls - Mar 19, 2013 at 7:50 PM

      Did you see crosby draw the first pp of the game by throwing back his head so hard I thought his helmet straps were gonna snap and surprise surprise surprise the shill piere mcquire never said a word about embellishment like he did about the bruin on sundays game a joke ! Its beyond embarrassing !

      • hockeywithdrawal - Mar 19, 2013 at 8:43 PM

        Haha yes! It was almost as if someone had hit him in the face!

  3. ravenscaps48 - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    This would be a huge upset if C could pull it off. Not likely, but I’ll still hope. These next four will decide if we make the playoffs or not. I just hope the players feel the same way! LETS GO CAPS!

    • ravenscaps48 - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      *DC

    • jpelle82 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM

      its cute you are still holding on to some kind of hope…playing .750 hockey for the caps seems too daunting of a task IMO.

      • ravenscaps48 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:20 AM

        Thanks. You’re a real friend!

  4. capsfan19 - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    Lets go caaaapppsss!

  5. valoisjoeybfeld69 - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    An excellent opportunity for the pens to continue to fine tune their D play. Hope Letang and Malkin are back, but only if they are 100%. No sense in returning to play too quickly. Should be a slam dunk for Pens considering how well they are playing. But, and as experienced by the hawks, you can’t win them all.

    Kudos to the author of this article for informing us about the win/loss record needed by the Caps (and other teams currently below .500) to make the playoffs. Achieving this type of record for those teams is unrealistic.

  6. jazzyherb - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Any word on Malkin or Letang?

    • jpelle82 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      letang reaggrivated same injury from earlier this year. he only missed 3 games last time around so hopefully its not any worse. a week ago they said malkin was 1-2 weeks with a upper body/shoulder injury. still got a week left on that diagnosis i guess, i know he is skating though

    • whatthepuck2012 - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      Geno and Letang are out for tonight, but Geno practiced with the team and hopes to play Friday. Cooke is a game time decision. I have no idea what happened to him. Nothing really new on Letang.

      • sportsfreak13 - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:31 PM

        Cooke took a puck to the foot either the last game or the game before. Letang is day to day.

  7. 2qswing - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Can someone please, please explain to me the love affair nbcsn has with the Washington Capitals?
    A last place unmotivated boring team with poor goal-tending is on national broadcasts on average twice a week.
    Not a Pitt fan but I hope they blow them out tonight.
    Note to nbc … Ovie is no longer a draw. there are other teams in the league. Some even are west of the Mississippi.

    • dipthatchip - Mar 19, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      if you have watched any Capitals games on NBC in past couple years, you’d see that they just get *&%$ on the entire game.

      Milbury, Emrick, Olczyk, and McGuire jerk off whomever the opposition is for the entirety of the game. If I had it my way, every single Caps game would be on local programming.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - Mar 19, 2013 at 1:42 PM

      I could be wrong, but I believe the TV schedule is determined at the outset of the season.

      • blackfoot11 - Mar 19, 2013 at 2:29 PM

        NBCSN games in primetime and on Sundays are determined based on the success (usually playoff teams) of teams from the year before. The Caps have been a consistent division champ and playoff team, so the league wants to showcase their successful teams in both conferences. BTW, the Caps are not in last place, make sure you do your homework before posting.

  8. modellforprez - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    maybe since ovenchicken is finished as a top 3 player like “crosby malkin stamkos” he can move to defense since he is more concerned with checking and running his mouth than scoring might be a good move. either way we own you loser

  9. capsrockva - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Let’s go CAPS

  10. kotteintheslot - Mar 19, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Saying the Caps “have come under hard times over the past couple of years” is a bit of a misnomer. They have been bad this year, but they have made it further than the Penguins each of the last two years in the playoffs.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - Mar 19, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      Ok. But, to me, the most important metric is how many SCs has a team won. You can make it to the big dance as many times as you want, but, ultimately it comes down to what you did when you got there.

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