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Game 3 Primer: Pens/Caps notes

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Random thoughts and somewhat formed sentences on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals series as they prepare for Game 3.

Stick on puck city
Stick on puck city
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

We definitely know that defensive shakeups are coming for both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals in the coming days. For the Caps, it's league-mandated and will last for the next 3 games, thanks to Brooks Orpik's illegal check to Olli Maatta. For the Pens, it's of unknown length as Maatta recovers from the effects of Orpik's hit.

What does is mean for both?

Capitals

Most of Orpik's absence will likely be absorbed by the team's best three defensemen in John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner , all of whom already are averaging 23+ minutes per game in these 2016 NHL playoffs.

They will have to use either Dmitry Orlov (a healthy scratch in Game 2 following a poor Game 1) or Mike Weber to go along with Taylor Chorney (who only played 10:50 in Games 2) and Nate Schmidt (11:00) as the bottom 3.

Orpik has also been a key member of the PK, which probably means more minutes for Chorney and Schmidt in that situation, which could be to the Pens advantage.

Penguins

A lot depends how the Pens want to work things, since they have Derrick Pouliot (left-handed, LD) and Justin Schultz (right-handed, RD) waiting in the wings. Either will have to be sheltered and have managed minutes on a 3rd pair to be successful now that the intensity is ramped up.

Maatta is a left-defenseman, but that doesn't necessarily mean there's no way in for Schultz. In March, when Maatta got hurt, the team moved Trevor Daley (a left-handed D that prefers right-side) up to the top pair to play with Kris Letang.

This strategy might make the most sense, because it would reunite Brian Dumoulin and Ben Lovejoy . Note that a reunion does not necessarily mean that Lovejoy will take on more minutes (he probably won't) but it makes sense in terms that Dumoulin and Lovejoy had success together earlier in the season.

That would leave Ian Cole and Schultz for the 3rd pair, which would be a natural since both of those two demonstrated some chemistry together towards the end of the regular season.

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This was pretty cool

I wonder if she goes 2 games without a point if their fans will complain about her salary?

But seriously, congrats to Amanda and the NWHL.

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With shots 28-10 through 2 periods in favor of Pittsburgh, it will be very interesting to see how the Caps respond in the first period of Game 3, when the series shifts to Pittsburgh. If the Pens power play was better, Game 2 could have been blown open, the adjustments that they make will be interesting as well.

Pittsburgh has shifted to run the power play off Phil Kessel on the left-wall. Kessel often looks to throw a lot of pucks on or towards net for a deflection by Sidney Crosby or for some loose change that Patric Hornqvist can deposit. But Kessel's low shots aren't going to beat a goalie the caliber of Braden Holtby, and the Caps PK has adjusted to take away the incoming redirects. As our friend Prashanth at WIIM pointed out:

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On the flip-side of the coin the Pens PK has done a great job of keying on Alex Ovechkin to take him away from his predictable left-circle spot, without abandoning other assignments that open up. Another key has been the aggression the Pens have shown to attempt to prevent the Caps from getting to setup their effective power play.

Which is a long way to say, probably just follow Prashanth on twitter.