A Multi-Layered Collision
WASHINGTON--As if a Penguins-Capitals contest needed added storylines.
Yet there are plenty of them going into tonight's game at the Verizon Centre, more than the usual Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin platform which the NHL used to love to dine out on.
This time, there's more. Lots more, including:
--It's the second game for the Caps since head coach Bruce Boudreau was cashiered in favour of Dale Hunter, but the first since Boudreau was quickly hired by Anaheim. It was only 65 hours from Boudreau's firing to his hiring, a modern-day record. Hunter is looking for his first win, and Ovechkin for his first goal since the coaching change.
"It's not like they're going to be a completely different team," said Crosby. "The same things add up to success, no matter what the style is."
Carlyle, by the way, assisted on Boudreau's first NHL goal back in the 1976-77 season. Wild.
--It's the first game for Crosby against the Caps since Jan. 1st, the day of the Winter Classic in Pittsburgh when he suffered the first of two concussions in a collision with David Steckel, now with the Leafs.
Crosby, by the way, hasn't yet shaved his Movember moustache, his superstitious side showing through once again as he rides a three-game point streak.
"I haven't thought about (the Winter Classic) at all," said Crosby. "More just looking forward to playing against them. it's always an intense game. They've got a new coach, they should be fired up. I think both teams bring out the best in one another."
--The Caps are riding an 11-0-2 regular season streak against the Pens.
Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma has never beaten Washington in regular season regulation.
"I wish it was better, I wish it was different," said Bylsma. "There's nothing I'd like to do more than start changing that."
--It's the first meeting between the two clubs since Pittsburgh winger Arron Asham kayoed Jay Beagle of the Caps in an Oct. 13 fight then celebrated with a rather inappropriate series of gestures for which he immediately apologized.
Beagle was concussed and hasn't played since.
Asham said he's prepared if the Caps go after him. "I'm sure they've got other things on their minds," said Asham, referring to Washington's coaching change and recent slump. "But if they decide to send somebody out to fight me, well, so be it. What happens, happens."
The Caps don't carry an enforcer, so it's not clear who would take on Asham, who remains bothered by his post-fight gestures while Beagle lay unconscious on the ice.
"To be honest, I had a couple of sleepless nights over that," said Asham. "I was very embarrassed for myself and for my team. Idont do that stuff. "I know it's never going to happen again."
--With Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek both sidelined with injuries, former Canadian national junior team defenceman Simon Depres has been recalled from the minors and will play in his first NHL game tonight.