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Up next: Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and the Washington Capitals

[SBN Capitals blog - Japers' Rink]

Record: 48-14-10 (1st in East)

Scorers: Alex Ovechkin (45g, 52a), Nicklas Backstrom (29g, 59a), Alex Semin (33g, 38a)

I always find typing up a preview for a Caps game a bit difficult.  Why you ask?  Well, because what more can really be said?  You know the players and likely despise them.  You know of the team's success and likely remember what it was like to see the Pens atop the division and conference.  You know the rivalry, the fans, the blogs, the front office - it's almost like you know them more than you'd like to know them.  But as Rage Against the Machine once proclaimed, "Know your enemy."  Or perhaps along the lines of The Godfather, "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."

Geno's out of the lineup with Pittsburgh.  That sure as hell doesn't help the Pens much.  Brooks Laich may very well be out of the lineup for Washington, but when you compare the injury situations for both teams, the Caps obviously come out with a bit of an edge in that department.  Jose Theodore is listed as the starter for the Caps.  Which reminds me, look at the "Dec" column in his NHL player profile and tell me you don't want to throw up a little bit.

Hate week rolls on for the Pens.  The Wings may be behind them at this point but the remaining schedule is no walk in the park.  Unless you're talking New York's Central Park at, like, 1am.  Caps tonight, Flyers Saturday - no doubt great hockey but also come trying competition.  While we can all be grateful for a few more Islanders and Thrashers games on the schedule, the season series with Washington doesn't officially end until April 3. 

In a perfect world, the Pens can put a 'W' in the column and try and bring some parity to the season series; one in which they trail with a record of 0-1-1.  It won't be easy, but we already know that.  But here's to hoping they can at least make it look that way.

Puck and thread at 7pm.  This one's on the NHL Network for US fans.