Pens discount Capitals' quest for revenge
Revenge is a dish best served when the weather is warm — as in the springtime Stanley Cup playoffs. Until then, the Penguins don't figure to learn what the Washington Capitals discovered about winning from their excruciating postseason loss in a second-round showdown last year.
"They're doing good, winning games ... but it's the regular season; it's still early," Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said Wednesday.
Spoken like an accomplished champion.
Fleury (fractured left finger) does not expect to play tonight in the Penguins' first regular-season meeting with the Capitals since his dazzling glove save on superstar Washington left wing Alex Ovechkin sparked a blowout win in Game 7 at Verizon Center.
That victory capped arguably the most anticipated NHL playoff series since the 1994 Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks, and it marked the fourth of eight postseason series between the franchises that the Penguins overcame a two-game deficit to eliminate the Capitals.
The latest of those exasperating losses by the Capitals would not have proven possible had the Penguins not experienced a crushing loss of their own in June 2008 — dropping a deciding Game 6 of the Cup Final against Detroit on home ice.
"It wasn't very tense in here," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said, recalling the dressing-room vibe after the Penguins dropped Games 1 and 2 at Washington last year. "We looked at it, like, 'OK, they won the first two games at home like they were supposed to; we'll win Games 3 and 4 and make it a best-of-three — and we thought we had the advantage in a three-game series.
"We'd been through one of those against a great team."
According to Orpik, the difference between the teams last spring was the Penguins' ability to handle the highs and lows of a tight playoff series. Fleury said having lived through the depths of a Cup-costing loss at home following the euphoria from a triple-overtime win at Detroit to extend the 2008 Final was "on our minds" prior to Game 7 against the Capitals.
"It sounds pretty simple, but we had the experience from Detroit," he said. "Everything that was going on during (the Capitals) series wasn't a big deal to us — just part of the playoffs."
It was just part of the maturation that nearly every Cup champion must experience. Even the Capitals, who are a near-lock to finish as a top-three playoff seed in the East for the third straight season, can appreciate that way of life in the NHL.
"It's not something that's going to kill us for years to come here," Capitals defenseman Brian Pothier told reporters in Washington yesterday. "If anything, it's a great learning tool for us."
Perhaps, but what the Capitals learned likely will not impress the Penguins tonight or in any of three remaining regular-season games between the star-powered rivals.
"It's premature, tough to say, until Washington gets into that situation again," Orpik said.
Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin will play their 15th regular-season game against one another tonight at Mellon Arena, but their first as respective captains of the Penguins and Capitals. A comparison of their Hart Trophy credentials as of Wednesday:
Crosby — NHL category — Ovechkin
3 — Winning goals — 4
7 — First goals — 10
25 — Division points — 14
21 — Road points — 31
54 — Points in wins — 38
Source: nhlmedia.com; sports.yahoo.com
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Pouliot learns from rookie season
- Coach Johnston trying to figure out why Penguins ‘fell off a cliff’
- Injured Penguins optimistic about returning next season
- Crosby, Malkin want to remain in Pittsburgh
- Rossi: Penguins’ best bet is on Martin
- Young defensemen make case for future with Penguins
- From injuries to front office, Penguins’ season didn’t lack drama
- Penguins’ Malkin: ‘We’re not a championship team’
- Penguins notebook: Crosby to play in worlds for 1st time since 2006
- Penguins president: General manager, coach won’t be fired
- Penguins eliminated with Game 5 overtime loss to Rangers