[8:00 PM] Capitals @ Penguins

Who will WIN this matchup?

Washington Capitals

@ Pittsburgh Penguins


Starting Goalies:

Braden Holtby (WSH): Confirmed

Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT): Confirmed


Current odds:

Washington Capitals: (-110)

Pittsburgh Penguins: (-110)


The resident face of the NHL will sit out one of the league’s signature rivalries on Thursday as captain Sidney Crosby will be stationed in the press box to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins begin defense of their Stanley Cup title. Crosby (concussion) also will have a good seat to watch the Penguins raise their fourth championship banner to the rafters prior to their season-opening home contest versus last season’s Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals.

Third-line center Lars Eller is expected to strengthen Washington down the middle while promising Andre Burakovsky will be looked upon to follow up his 17-goal performance in 2015-16. Veteran wings T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams are entering contract years after each surpassed 50 points while playing in 80 or more games last season. Former Penguin Matt Niskanen averaged a team-high 24:40 of ice time while fellow defenseman John Carlson recorded 39 points in just 56 games.

Pittsburgh won’t just be without Crosby as veteran Marc-Andre Fleury will replace last season’s Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Matt Murray, who is nursing a hand injury from the World Cup of Hockey. The Penguins return the majority of their defensemen – save for top-six blue-liner Ben Lovejoy (New Jersey), but the team’s calling card traditionally has been offense. Phil Kessel dotted his first year in the Steel City with 22 points in 24 postseason games while enjoying chemistry as part of the “HBK Line” with Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino. Former Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin can score in bunches, provided he can avoid a now all-too-familiar injury bug.

Pittsburgh D Kris Letang enjoyed career highs in goals (16), assists (51), points (67) and blocks (122) last season.

Washington C Nicklas Backstrom recorded 30 of his 70 points on the team’s fifth-ranked power play in 2015-16.

The Penguins have clinched 10 straight postseason appearances, but no team has repeated as NHL champion since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98.


StreakSmarts Pick: Washington Capitals 

Confidence: 4/10

StreakSmarter Pick