Tonight in Pittsburgh PA, the Pittsburgh Penguins will be raising a championship banner in their newly named arena: PPG Paint Arena (Formally Consol Energy Center). As many of us know, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup 4 months ago in 6 games over the San Jose Sharks. The Penguins started last season 15-10-3 on December 12th. They relieved Mike Johnston of his coaching duties and in came Mike Sullivan. The Penguins then proceeded to go 33-16-5, finished the season 48-26-8 and made the postseason. In the postseason they beat the Rangers in 5 in Round 1, the Capitals in Round 2, Tampa Bay in the Conference Final and lastly the San Jose Sharks in the Final.
This figures to be a special night in Pittsburgh because the defending Stanley Cup Champions begin their title defense. They will also raise a championship banner before the game. It’ll be the 4th banner raising in Penguins history, the 1st banner raised in PPG Paints Arena. The previous 3 banners they won were raised in old Mellon Arena. After all that they will be facing a bitter rival they beat in the postseason last year – the Capitals in the season opener for both teams.
Pittsburgh Penguins/Washington Capitals Preview:
The Penguins came into the NHL as part of the 1967 NHL Expansion, while the Washington Capitals came into The NHL as part of 1974 NHL Expansion. Usually, when you think of the Penguins–Capitals rivalry, you immediately think Sidney Crosby vs Alex Ovechkin. They have faced each other 45 times since both came into the league. Crosby holds a 35-20 edge over Ovechkin. However, this rivalry is much more than just Crosby vs Ovechkin.
This is the 269th meeting all-time between these 2 division rivals. Their 1st meeting was in 1974 on November 16th; an 8-1 rout by the Penguins over the Caps. Pittsburgh leads the All-Time Series 138-114-16. They’re meeting in Pittsburgh for the 133rd time, Penguins hold a 77-48-7 edge over the Capitals.
From 1974 to 1989, The Washington Capitals had a 47-41-9 lead in the series, then from 1990 to 2009 the Penguins dominated the series, 79-51-7. Since 2010, the series is 18-16 Pittsburgh, 97-67-7 since 1990.
Nine times these two teams have met in the playoffs. The Penguins own a 34-21 edge in the 55 postseason games played between the two teams. They’ve trailed in 8 those 9 series and won all but 1 of them, the 1994 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.
The Penguins have won The Stanley Cup 4 times in their history and all 4 times they beat the Capitals in the Playoffs to get there.
One of the best series before the 2016 Eastern Conference Semifinals last year between the teams was the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals when the Capitals took a 2–0 series lead before the Penguins stormed back to win Game 7 in DC, 6-2.
STATS Inc. Game Notes:
– The defending Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals beat the Flyers, 4-2, in the first round of the 2016 playoffs before getting bounced out by the Penguins in the Conference Semis in six games. Washington won a franchise-record 56 games during the 2015-16 regular season.
– The Penguins won the fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history last season, beating the Sharks in six games in the Final. Pittsburgh is looking to become the first team to repeat as NHL champs since the Red Wings won the Cup in 1997 and 1998.
– Including a split of two games at CONSOL Energy Center, the Pens took three of five from the Caps during the 2015-16 regular season. Over the last six campaigns, these clubs have played 12 times in Pittsburgh, each scoring exactly 28 goals and winning six of those contests.
– Alex Ovechkin potted 50 goals in 2015-16, winning his fourth straight Rocket Richard Trophy and the sixth of his career overall. Ovechkin has lit the lamp 50 or more times seven times in his NHL career — two shy of the most in league history (Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy both had nine 50+ goal seasons).
– Last year’s Conn Smythe winner, Sidney Crosby, is out of this game while nursing a concussion. Listed as day-to-day, Crosby led the Pens in goals (36) and points (85) during the 2015-16 regular season, and he enters this year having been the Pens’ leading point-getter in each of the last four campaigns.
– Washington (3.02 gpg) was one of just two NHL clubs that averaged over three markers per game in 2015-16 (Dallas — 3.23 was the other). Pittsburgh averaged 2.94 goals per game last season (third best in the league)
Tonight is going to be a fun night as Penguin fans witness the raising of a championship banner, the Penguins debut new home uniforms, the 1st game and banner raising in a newly named arena, and their opening game of the season against their Division rivals – the Washington Capitals.
8:00 PM ET,
PPG Paints Arena,
NBCSN: Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk & Pierre McGuire will have the call.