Game Preview: Pens-Caps (Game 2) by @msteiner90 - PensInitiative | Pittsburgh Penguins Blog | Rumors | News

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Game Preview: Pens-Caps (Game 2) by @msteiner90

Game 2 of the Pens-Caps series kicks off at 8:00PM EST at the Verizon Center tonight.

MATCH: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
SERIES: NHL Playoffs Second Round, PIT leads the series 1-0
TIME: 8 p.m. EST
LOCATION: Verizon Center
RADIO: 105.9 FM, the X
SUMMARY: Both the Penguins and Capitals returned to the drawing board after Thursday night's bout in the Verizon Center.  The Penguins won, despite being handedly outshot (35-21, Capitals) and Head Coach Mike Sullivan has acknowledged that the Penguins must play a better game in Game 2 if they want to win again.  The Capitals, on the other hand, played the type of game that they wanted but couldn't get the pucks past the shot blocking Penguins (29 total shots blocked, Ian Cole leading with 8).

The Penguins' morning skate (which was optional) did not feature Carl Hagelin, who is a game-time decision.  The Penguins' certainly hope to continue their success at preventing the Capitals' highly efficient power play from touching the ice in this important Game 2.
The Capitals hope to continue their pummeling of the net with pucks, and hope that Marc Andre Fleury will be less successful as time goes on.  
  • Conor Sheary has played horrendously in recent games, and the coaches have noticed.  His demotion to the third line didn't seem to motivate his play in the first game of the series - watch to see if he is benched for Carl Hagelin, or another line shake up occurs.  Conor Sheary is -4 in the playoffs, worst on the team.  Head Coach Mike Sullivan may use this as an opportunity to show the team that roster spots aren't owned, they are earned.

  • The Penguins' success can be attributed to staying out of the penalty box.  Expect the Penguins to do their best to stay out of skirmishes and after-whistle antics if they want to keep the scoreboard tilted in their direction.  The Penguins are decidedly not keeping the Sabre-metricians happy (especially in the Corsi % category) but sometimes those statistics can be more irrelevant than anyone has the courage to admit.  A statistic that is relevant is PP% and PK%.  Those numbers do not bode well for any team if they can't keep out of the box against Washington.  
  • Success in the face-off circle must continue for the Penguins.  The Penguins are a team who succeed when they are dictating the pace of play, and there's no better way of doing that than when you win the face-off.  They won 54% of their face-offs on Thursday night, and expect for the coaches to try to push that percentage even higher tonight.  

Tonight is the ultimate test for the Washington Capitals.  One game can be a fluke, and I'm sure that Barry Trotz has told everyone to shake it off - but two games is a trend.  If the Caps have to come back to Pittsburgh bearing the cross that would be being down 2-0 to the Penguins...their fanbase will want blood.  The Capitals are going to put it all on the line tonight, and try to score early and often.  This will be the hardest game of the series for the Penguins to win, in my humble opinion, and I will be surprised if they come out on top of the Capitals tonight at the Verizon Center.  

Expect Alexander Ovechkin to find an extra gear tonight, expect Braden Holtby to be sharp, and expect Justin Williams to attempt (poorly, probably) to be a playoff leader.  And if by some miracle the Penguins can hold the Capitals off, expect cheap shots from the Capitals.  They're a dog backed into a corner tonight.
What I'm trying to say is, it'll be a good game.  You sure won't want to miss a second of it.

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