Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan met with the Pittsburgh media this morning, following last night’s Game 6 victory by the Washington Capitals over the Columbus Blue Jackets, setting the stage for another epic second round battle between the Pens and the Caps.
So, what does Sullivan think about his opposition? “They have similar personnel. Their core is still intact. They're a really good hockey team,” said the ever stoic Sullivan. “There aren't drastic differences. They're more evolved and more mature."
But, do the Caps finally have what it takes to best the Penguins in a best of seven series? Pens defenseman Kris Letang likes his team’s chances, but wasn’t about to make any predictions… he’s a total pro and knows that the Caps don’t need any added motivation heading into what is expected to be a particularly contentious series.
"You don’t know how it’s going to go,” said Letang. “The only thing I know is that it’s a good rivalry, two really good teams that have a lot of punch offensively. It’s going to be fun to be a part of."
Perhaps the biggest question mark facing the Penguins as they prepare for the Capitals is the health of superstar Evgeni Malkin, along with speedy winger Carl Hagelin. Malkin sat out the Penguins’ 8-5 Game 6 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night, while Hagelin left the game after taking this BRUTAL hit from Flyers captain Claude Giroux:
When it comes to Malkin and Hagelin’s status for Game 1 versus the Capitals, expected to be played on Thursday evening, it’s a good news / bad news situation.
The bad news is that both players sat out practice this morning:
The good news is that they’re both just listed as “day to day”:
What this means is anyone’s guess, but day to day injuries are usually no longer than a week. If we were the betting type, we’d wager that you’ll at least see Malkin for Game 1, perhaps both players as they’ve both shown remarkable resiliency throughout their career when it comes to dealing with injuries.
Regardless, you just KNOW that both the Penguins and Capitals will come out of the gate roaring in DC for Game 1. Drop the puck!