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Capitals can't shake the Rust

May 2, 2021, 5:22 PM ET [51 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Penguins continued their winning ways on Saturday night as they blanked the Capitals by a score of 3-0. For the moment the Penguins are two points ahead of the Capitals and are sitting in first place of the division. Washington has a game in hand. Pittsburgh only has four games left in the regular season. Two will be against the Flyers and to close things out the Penguins will finish with a pair against the Sabres. They’ve already clinched their playoff berth and all that remains is the seeding for who they will play in round one.

I wouldn’t mind Washington as a matchup. I think the Penguins are the better team. They are faster and have had the better goaltending this year. They finished the regular season 6-2 against them. Unfortunately, it is the least likely of all the matchups. Per Hockeyviz there is only a 20% chance of playing the Capitals. The Islanders lead the way at 44% with the Bruins coming in at 36%.

Bryan Rust was just showing off in this game. One breakaway goal wasn’t enough. He felt two was necessary and two is what he had. The first had a little bit of luck in the sense the Washington defender fell down and made things a lot easier than they could have been. Rust took the favor and made no mistake with his finish.

The second breakaway Rust did a little bit of everything. He showed great defensive positioning and blocked a shot. You don’t always get the puck to go where you want off of a blocked shot, but when you’re consistently in the right spot you’ll eventually get the bounce you need. The bounce was there and Rust was off to the races. He even added a little more style to the finish for good measure.

Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Bryan Rust all have 20 goals on the season. I believe they are the only line in hockey at the moment to have all three members at 20 goals or more.

Reinforcements are on the way. Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Tanev continue to creep closer to playing. I think Malkin will return for the next game. Tanev was in a no-contact jersey last practice so he might take just a little bit longer. His original timeframe was to miss the rest of the regular season. I suppose it could still play out that way. I’m less worried about Tanev’s injury due to it being an upper body one. His strength is his skating and he will still be able to do that. things from the waist up for him aren’t as fine-tuned so he should be able to get back into the fold quickly and look like himself. Malkin needs to play. He needs to get his legs going and get the feel for the puck. He started slowly this year and the Penguins don’t have the luxury of waiting as long for him to start firing on all cylinders.

Tomorrow begins the final stretch. Pittsburgh closes things out against two non-playoff teams. The only real objectives are to stay conditioned and avoid injury. Let the seeds shake out how they may.

Thanks for reading!
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