Friday, December 31, 2010

Game #40 Preview: The Winter Classic - Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins


Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

When:  January 1, 2011, 1:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 14-6-3-1
Caps Game 40 Record: 14-17-3-1
All-Time vs. PIT: 83-86-16-5
All-Time at PIT: 34-51-7-1
Last Season vs. PIT: 4-0-0
Last Meeting: 12/23/10, WAS 2 PIT 3 (OT-SO)

This Year:
WAS Record: 22-12-5
Standings Points: 49
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th
Last Game: 12/28/10, WAS 3 MON 0
Streak: Win 2

PIT Record: 25-11-3
Standings Points: 53
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 1st    
Last Game: 12/29/10, PIT 1 NYI 2
Streak: Loss 1

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 85 PERRAULT, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 90 JOHANSSON, 14 FEHR
Forward Line 4: 26 HENDRICKS, 83 BEAGLE, 39 STECKEL
Defense Pair 1: 52 GREEN, 23 HANNAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 55 SCHULTZ, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Pittsburgh
Forward Line 1: 14 KUNITZ, 87 CROSBY, 9 DUPUIS
Forward Line 2: 25 TALBOT, 71 MALKIN, 24 COOKE
Forward Line 3: 18 CONNER, 10 LETESTU, 48 KENNEDY
Forward Line 4: 17 RUPP, 27 ADAMS, 45 ASHAM
Defense Pair 1: ORPIK, 58 LETANG
Defense Pair 2: 7 MARTIN, 4 MICHALEK
Defense Pair 3: 3 GOLIGOSKI, 5 ENGELLAND
Goalie: 29 FLEURY
Back-up Goalie: 1 JOHNSON

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (undisclosed) DTD, 15 GORDON (lower body) IR, 17 KING (undisclosed) IR, 10 BRADLEY (broken finger) IR

PIT – COMRIE (lower body) IR, GRANT (wrist, neck) IR, STAAL (foot, hand) IR

Caps Milestones:
Mike Knuble needs 2 points to reach 500 in his career.
Nicklas Backstrom needs 6 points to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

It’s finally here. The Winter Classic with the Capitals travelling to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins in front of 80,000 fans at the outdoor rink set up at Heinz Field, home of the NFL’s Steelers. The script could not have played out any better for the NHL. The Pens lead the league in standings points and Washington is back playing winning hockey and the two teams played to a standstill a week ago. The Caps are bringing momentum into the game with two good wins over Carolina and Montreal. The defense is settling in nicely with Scott Hannan getting more comfortable with Mike Green and Jeff Schultz return to the lineup. The Caps new defensive systems have been getting better as of late. The team has allowed 11 goals against in their last 7 games and is averaging 16 blocked shots per game in that same stretch. The offense is starting pick up with Alex Ovechkin scoring in two straight and Mike Green with points in 3 consecutive games. Look for the Classic to start with physical action from both teams as they try to send messages early. It should be a tight contest but I am expecting a big game from the Capitals captain and victory for the boys in the white jerseys.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 4 PIT 2

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