Tuesday night's home opener saw the Pittsburgh Penguins remaining undefeated in regulation time. The 4-2 victory may not be remembered at season's end, but two points will always be important.
This is especially true when the team could have easily fallen victim to a "trap game." With the Washington Capitals next on the schedule, a less-focused group could have hit the fast-forward button on their frame of mind.
The Washington Capitals come to town with big smiles on their faces. In their last six games in town, they have won them all. This includes three games where the Caps scored six goals.
Obviously, an October game is not the definitive moment of a season. One thing that is important about this game though will be matching intensity.
Even if you are not a fan of either team, this should prove to be worth watching. Also, tune in early as the teams will pay tribute to the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL.
There will be a ceremonial faceoff as well as patches on the jerseys. The jersey will later be auctioned off to support the families of the victims of the horrible tragedy.
This is the first time an opponent is included in my pregame breakdown. It certainly will not be the last, but it is fitting that Ovie would be the first.
He is the man you love to hate and arguably the most recognizable player in the sport. You might boo him, but don't kid yourself. Having him around is what makes this game great.
Evgeni Malkin has missed the past two games with soreness in his knee. If that soreness is still there, he should sit.
Having said that, it would be great to see him out there against the Capitals and Ovechkin. He has often been overlooked in the rivalry because of Sidney Crosby, but the competitiveness of Ovie and Geno make that the real story.
The Penguins cannot afford their top defensive pairing to be off their game against the Caps. If they are, it is very possible the Caps could hit the six-goal mark again and raise their Pittsburgh win streak to seven.
Richard Park scored a shorthanded goal in his return-home opener. According to @PensRadioNet, he also had one in his first Penguins home opener.
Joe Vitale has played solid at both ends of the ice, done well on faceoffs and been lights-out with the third line. He is one of the most pleasant surprises of the early season.
Both of these guys are providing energy and hard work. It seems impossible to take either of these guys out of the lineup, so players like Asham and Letestu could find themselves sitting if their play continues to be hot as other forwards return.
James Neal got another goal against the Panthers. It would be great to see him get on a goal-scoring roll. He seems to have the confidence going for him.
While there was a third-period goal allowed, Marc-Andre Fleury did a good job of shutting the door there. He played a strong game with no glaring errors and some very nice saves.
Disregard his quest for a goal; that was garbage time and you have to have fun out there. What matters is that Fleury did everything we could ask of him.
Against the Capitals, it will start and end with Fleury. He has to have a good game for the Pens to win.
I will be tweeting during the game once again. If you feel the need, check that out @shootinthepuck.