The Washington Capitals are in town and for once no one has mentioned Alex Ovechkin because there are newer and bigger stories.
Orpik, Nisky and Reirden are returning to face the Penguins team decimated by illness and injuries. The Pens have dominated the Caps lately, so here are the key observations heading into tonight's game. [Pens Nation]
First up some good news, which were in such short supply lately. Jim Rutherford announced today that Olli Maatta will not require another surgery on his shoulder and will continue to rehab the injury with an eye toward returning to the lineup within 4 weeks. If anyone needs to turn the calendar to the new year, it's Olli. [Penguins.com]
Thomas Greiss and Steve Downie are out with mumps (Brandon Sutter tested negative). [CBS Local]
In light of the above, the Pens have called up Jeff Zatkoff and Jayson Megna. [PPG]
Brooks Orpik has played more games for Pittsburgh than any defenseman in the team history, and tonight he gets to be a visitor. That must feel odd. [PPG]
Matt Niskanen feels the pressure of living up to the large contract he's received from the Capitals. He hasn't played poorly, but he's no longer part of supporting cast. [Trib]
The New Jersey Devils have fired head coach Pete DeBoer (who was the least of their problems, but OK). Lou Lamoriello is definitely not a Christmass-feel-good kind of guy, given that he's now fired coaches on Dec. 23 and Dec. 26. Ouch. [NHL.com]
But who will be behind the bench in Newark? Funny you should ask. It will be big Lou himself, overseeing Scott Stevens and Adam Oates. Okay then, if they say so. [USA Today]
Oh and by the way the mumps are tearing through the Devils locker room as well. Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Adam Larsson and Michael Ryder have been diagnosed so far, and the illness has affected at least one player on their minor league team as well. [Pro Hockey Talk]
Team USA beat Finland in a shootout in the first round of WJC. Kasperi Kapanen was denied on the deciding attempt, and didn't have that great a game otherwise. [CBS Sports]
Canada blew out Slovakia 8-0 but Connor McDavid went pointless. If you're Canada, that's a good problem to have. [Olympic.ca]
Russia nearly dropped the opener to Denmark, who outplayed them for the most part and took it all the way to the shootout. [Yahoo Sports Canada]
That's it for today. If you're going to the game tonight, I hope you greet Orpik and Nisky warmly. They were good guys when they played here.