ARLINGTON Denzel Ward Jersey Elite , Va. (AP) Like tourists flocking to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom, the Pittsburgh Penguins making a trip to Washington in the playoffs has become a rite of spring.
The Penguins and Capitals will face off in the second round for the third consecutive year with the core groups changed only slightly from past battles. Back-to-back Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh still has playoff MVPs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and Washington still has stars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom trying to make the Eastern Conference final for the first time.
”We faced each other for a lot of games, and we should know each other right now inside out,” Backstrom said. ”That’s just how it is. It’s usually tight series and one-goal games. We’re excited about this one.”Article continues below ...
It’s hard not to get the ”Groundhog Day” feeling about these teams meeting for the fourth time in the past 10 years. The Penguins won the previous three series despite not having home-ice advantage, twice winning Game 7 in Washington on the way to capturing the Stanley Cup.
But this year is different in many ways, most notably on the Pittsburgh injury front. Malkin and winger Carl Hagelin will miss Game 1 on Thursday night in Washington. Coach Mike Sullivan said Malkin will travel, making him a possibility to play in Game 2 this weekend after missing the end of the Philadelphia series with an apparent lower-body injury.
”I think guys have to step up in different roles maybe Wholesale Clive Walford Jersey ,” Crosby said. ”I don’t think anybody has to put too much pressure on themselves. Collectively we can find ways and those are guys who aren’t easy to replace, but that’s what we’re faced with.”
A year after the last series between these two division rivals, gone from the Penguins are forwards Nick Bonino, Chris Kunitz and Matt Cullen, defensemen Trevor Daley, Ian Cole and Ron Hainsey and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Gone from the Capitals are forwards Justin William