Finally a rivalry Wednesday for the Penguins that actually is against a rival, what a treat! Pittsburgh starts a three game road trip tonight in DC against the Capitals, who themselves are just coming off a three game road trip that saw them go 1-1-1, including a loss last night in OT against Columbus.
The Caps preserved starter Braden Holtby for tonight's game against the Pens, playing backup Phillipp Grubbauer last night in CBJ. Pittsburgh has traditionally had much success against Holtby, winning 13 out of 20 career games against the talented netminder (including 4 of 6 last spring).
Washington's off to an uneven start, their overall record remains pretty good (9-4-2) but they're in a bit of a rut lately, going just 1-2-1 in the last 4 and scoring just 5 goals in that stretch. Their traditionally strong power play is just 25th in the league at 11.9%, despite having good shot metrics, so that is bound to improve and they will start filling the net again as typical, sooner or later.
Let's hope later.
Expected Washington lines
Alex Ovechkin - Jay Beagle - Andre Burakovsky
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - TJ Oshie
Zachory Stanford - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
Daniel Winnik - Lars Eller - Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner / Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov / John Carlson
Brooks Orpik / Taylor Chorney
Beagle (6 points) has had a strong start to the season, but on a scoring line is in a little over his head in such a temporary role. It's been a somewhat rough start for Kuznetsov (2g+5a) and Williams (1g+1a) haven't produced as much as expected and Wilson (1g+0a) hasn't made any meaningful jump above 4th liner yet. Also, interestingly enough, Burakovsky (2g+4a) is still stuck on 2 goals after scoring 2 against the Pens on opening night. Hopefully that's not a trend.
Expected Penguins lines
Conor Sheary - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Carl Hagelin - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Olli Maatta / Trevor Daley
Ian Cole / Justin Schultz
Bonino remains a sparing presence at practice, taking "maintenance days" for the second time in as many weeks, so it seems he's banged up but not quite enough to have to miss any time.