1. The Penguins come into this series with injury woes, so let’s get some updates. First off, Norris-level workhorse defenseman Kris Letang is out for the series (and the season), as you know.
Next up, goaltender Matt Murray, who stymied the Caps in this same round last year, and injured himself prior to Game 1 of Pittsburgh’s first-round series:
Sullivan said Matt Murray has not skated yet.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) April 24, 2017
How about old pals Chris Kunitz and Carl Hagelin (and Chad Ruhwedel, who apparently is another Pittsburgh Penguin):
Kunitz, Ruhwedel are game-time decisions going forward for Penguins.— Bill West (@BWest_Trib) April 24, 2017
Sullivan says the Penguins are "hopeful" Carl Hagelin will return some time during this series. "I can't say for sure." #Pens— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) April 24, 2017
The Hagelin injury is a big one, as he had three goals and seven points in last year’s series between the two teams and is a key to that whole “top-nine” approach that did the Caps in a year ago. (He’s also third among active skaters in playoff games played against the Caps with 27, trailing only Jaromir Jagr (42) and Dan Girardi (33); Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist has also faced the Caps 33 times in the post-season).
Anyway, with those question marks lingering, here’s how the Pens have been practicing:
#Pens lines:— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) April 24, 2017
#Pens D-Pairs:— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) April 23, 2017
So the Pens’ lineup is in flux. But as long as 87, 71 and 81 are ready to go, so are the Pens.
For their part, the Caps hit the ice at Kettler to get back to work in about a half-an-hour, so check back later for relevant updates.
2. Oh, hey... Pittsburgh.
Washington's record in series against anyone-but-Pittsburgh: 14-18. Washington's record in series against Pittsburgh: 1-8.— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) April 24, 2017
Other than that, how’d you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
It’s been nearly a year since the Penguins most recently bounced the Capitals out of the playoffs, and just about everything the Caps have done in the interim has been with an eye to these next four-to-seven games:
“We’re ready,” forward Marcus Johansson said. “We’re excited. We can’t wait to get going. We’ve worked hard for it. We’ve worked all year and all summer to get back into this position, and now we’re here.”
So it’s once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.
3. Yesterday, we posted some probabilities for the Caps/Pens series. Today? Some predictions. Here we go...