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Penguins vs. Capitals Scouting Report

Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 5:00 PM ET / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins vs. Capitals Scouting Report
Pittsburgh Penguins
Home: 8-1-2-18
Road: 6-6-2-14

WHEN: Dec. 1, 2011 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: Verizon Center
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Washington Capitals
Home: 8-3-1-17

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals 






Nicklas Backstrom
C  -  #19
  8 Goals
  18 Assists
  26 Points
• Continues to be Washington’s best source of offense through their struggles, as his 26 points leads the team and ranks sixth (tied) in the NHL.

• Playmaking, maturing center – who just turned 24 on Nov. 23 – has compiled 24 points, 23 of those being assists, in 17 career games vs. Pittsburgh.

• The native of Gavle, Sweden is just six active players to record at least 40 assists in each of his first four NHL seasons.
Joel Ward
RW -  #42
  4 Goals
  4 Assists
  8 Points
• Put forth a monster effort during the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs as the Predators advanced to the second round for the first time in franchise history, leading Nashville in goals (7), assists (6) and points (13) in 12 postseason games.

• Signed a four-year, $12 million contract with the Capitals on the first day of free agency this past summer.

• The 6-foot-1, 226-pound winger uses his size to his advantage and possesses a great work ethic and fearless attitude while being an excellent team player.
Dennis Wideman
D  -  #6
  3 Goals
  10 Assists
  13 Points
• Acquired from Florida for center Jake Hauswirth and a 2011 third-round pick on Feb. 28.

• The offensive defenseman with excellent puck skills – who quarterbacks Washington’s power play – finished last season tied for first among NHL blueliners with nine power-play goals.

Played 204 games over three-plus seasons for new Capitals head coach Dale Hunter with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League from 2001-04, where he compiled 79 goals and 197 points.
The Washington Capitals got their season off to franchise-best start, winning an impressive seven-straight games to open the 2011-12 campaign. But the Capitals have struggled since, posting just five wins in the next 16 games.

Washington general manager George McPhee responded to his team’s slide by firing head coach Bruce Boudreau on Monday and replacing him with former Capitals great Dale Hunter, who made his NHL coaching debut on Wednesday in a 2-1 loss to St. Louis. While there were flashes of different tactics in that contest, it’s certainly going to take some time for the new Capitals skipper to fully implement his vision – which is unclear as of now. 

Hunter, 51, appeared in 872 games for Washington from 1987 to 1999, is one of four players to have his number retired by the club and holds the distinction of being the longest-tenured captain in Capitals history.

Hunter was in the midst of his 11th season as coach and co-owner of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League when he got the call, and has the best winning percentage in the history of the league – compiling a record of 451-189-23-24. Hopefully he can turn the Capitals’ fortunes around, as there aren’t many positives to be found with a team who’s won just three of their last 12 games.

Washington has always been regarded as having one of the deepest, most dangerous forward lineups in the league, but their stars just haven’t been performing like the talented players they are – save for perhaps playmaking center Nicklas Backstrom. The 24-year-old Swede continues to be Washington’s best source of offense through their struggles, as his 26 points leads the team and ranks sixth (tied) in the NHL.

The dynamic Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin has just one goal in his last nine contests, while his countryman Alexander Semin – who’s posted 26-plus goals in each of his last five seasons – was made a healthy scratch on Nov. 21. The Capitals have been held to just one goal in five of their last eight games – and allowed 33 goals over that same span. However, one of the bright spots (in addition to Backstrom) has been the speedy Jason Chimera, who paces the team with nine goals.

Their back end has struggled as well, with starting goalie Tomas Vokoun going 2-7 in his last nine appearances while anchoring a defense that’s got the league’s fourth-worst goals-against average (3.22). What hasn’t helped is the prolonged absence of offensively gifted defenseman Mike Green, who’s missed the last nine games and has no timetable for his return to the lineup as he deals with groin soreness.  Washington is 8-0-0 with Green in the lineup this season and 4-10-1 without him.
  • Dale Hunter becomes the 15th head coach in Washington Capitals history. He is the third coach in team history to have also played for the Capitals, having appeared in 872 games for the Capitals from 1987-99. Roger Crozier, head coach for one game during the 1981-82 season, played in three games for the Caps in 1976-77 while Terry Murray, head coach for 325 games from 1990-1994, appeared in 74 games with Washington during the 1981-82 season.
  • Dale Hunter is the second coach to move straight from the Ontario Hockey League to the NHL in the past four seasons. Peter DeBoer, now in New Jersey, was hired by the Florida Panthers in 2008 after 13 years in the OHL.
  • Thursday the Penguins will look to end the Capitals’ regular-season success over them, as Washington has gone 12-1-2 in its last 15 meetings with Pittsburgh.
  • The Capitals are 10-0-2 in their last 12 meetings with the Penguins, the team’s second-longest stretch of consecutive games with a point vs. Pittsburgh (14-0-1 from 1983-85).
  • In the 21 games that Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin have gone head-to-head during their careers the Penguins own a 12-7-2 record. Crosby (13G-22A) has outscored Ovechkin (15G-13A) in those contests, 35-28.
  • Capitals forward Mike Knuble has scored a staggering 31 career goals against Pittsburgh through 62 contests. With his third-period tally in the two teams’ last meeting on Oct. 13, Knuble has now scored in nine straight games versus the Penguins (with all nine being played as a Capital), and has notched at least one point in each of his last 13 regular-season games against Pittsburgh.
  • With his first-period power-play tally in the Penguins’ 4-3 setback to the NY Rangers on Tuesday, James Neal upped his total in that category to seven – which ranks first in the league and puts him two shy of his career-high of nine set in his rookie season with the Dallas Stars. However, power-play goals isn’t the only area that Neal is the NHL’s best; he also paces the league with 104 shots on goal – seven more than second-place Dustin Byfuglien of Winnipeg.




2010-11 STAT CHART

F Dustin Jeffrey, knee
D Kris Letang, broken nose
D Ben Lovejoy, broken wrist
D Zbynek Michalek, undisclosed
D Brian Strait, hyper-extended elbow
Neal (14) Chimera (9)
Letang (16) Backstrom (18)
Neal (25)
Backstrom (26)
Asham (28) Semin (32)
Dupuis (12) Alzner (9)
Neal (7) Laich/Green (3)
Four with (1)
Chimera (1)
Fleury (13-4-2)
Vokoun (10-6-0)
Fleury (2.17) Vokoun (2.77)
Fleury (.922) Vokoun (.906)

D Mike Green, groin
F Jay Beagle, concussion-like symptoms
D Tom Poti, groin





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Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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