Last Stop at the Igloo?Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
It will be Semyon Varlamov in goal for the Caps against Marc-Andre Fleury for Pittsburgh tonight as the Caps play their final road game of the 2009-10 regular season and make their last regular season visit ever to the Igloo. In the last seven regular season meetings between Pittsburgh and Washington, the Caps have outscored the Pens in the third period by a combined 16-2. Pens coach Dan Bylsma was asked about that this morning. "Everybody knows how dangerous their offensive machine can be," says the Pens' bench boss. "Their power play is another example of that. Five-on-five in rushes they activate their defense and they try to make plays on the rush an awful lot. And I think when they’re down, that situation is even greater. "Things we could have done better to this point in the third period with the leads that we’ve had: play in the offensive zone more, hold on to the puck more. We tend to give them time and space and back off. If you give them any chance on the power play there are situations where they are going to take advantage of it. And they have in the third periods against us. We’re aware of it and we need to get better.” Bylsma also says that, like hockey fans everywhere, he relishes these Caps-Penguins meetings. "I like the pressure. I like the games. That’s why you play. I’d rather be playing against Alexander Ovechkin tonight than a beer league game. This game means something to us. We want to play this team well. We have a history. There is animosity. It means something; they’re great to play.” For the Caps, Mike Green, Eric Belanger, Karl Alzner, Boyd Gordon, Brendan Morrison and John Carlson will be sitting this one out. And for the second straight meeting between these two clubs, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin will be out of the lineup. Washington finishes the regular season with a pair of home games this weekend and it knows it will play its first two Stanley Cup playoff tilts at Verizon Center. So when the Caps head back to the District late tonight, they know they'll be there for another dozen days or so.
Last season, Caps defenseman Mike Green was runner-up (by a narrow margin) for the Norris Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top defenseman. Boston’s Zdeno Chara beat out Green for the Norris, and the Washington blueliner had to settle for a berth on the NHL’s First All-Star Team. Although