Penguins relish idea of snapping slump in Washington
On the surface, it sounds like a massive undertaking.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, mired in a four-game losing streak, playing inconsistent hockey, are tasked with snapping out of their slump in the home of the defending Stanley Cup champions when they visit the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.
Curiously, though, the Penguins sound like they’re actually looking forward to it.
“Tough place to do it, but we’ve been playing a lot of games there and winning a lot of games there,” winger Patric Hornqvist said after practice Tuesday. “Why not start there with the defending champions?”
If the Penguins need an outside source to provide a dose of competitive fire, a trip to Washington could do the trick. After all, they’ll be playing underneath a championship banner won at least partially their expense.
“Sometimes it brings the best out of you,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “We’re going to a tough building, a tough team to play against. It’s a good test. We’ll see what we’re made of.”
Coincidentally, the Penguins and Capitals will come into Wednesday night’s game with identical 6-4-3 records.
Frankly, those look a lot like early season results turned in by teams that realize the games that count won’t be played until the spring.
“We would love to be playing better and doing better, but when we turn this thing around, is anyone going to care about this time in March or April? No,” defenseman Matt Niskanen told the Washington Post. “The main thing is we need to keep working and get better.”
Sidney Crosby wouldn’t go that far, but he agreed with Niskanen’s theory that improvement is more important than results at this stage of the season.
“It’s definitely a process. You have to understand that,” Crosby said. “You have to identify what it is you need to improve and make sure you’re better in those areas and you’re finding ways to win games. These points still count in April, too. That’s the balance you try to find.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at email@example.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.