Pittsburgh Penguins: Showdown Against Washington Capitals and Dale Hunter

Eron NoreContributor IIIDecember 1, 2011

Pittsburgh Penguins: Showdown Against Washington Capitals and Dale Hunter

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the New York Rangers Tuesday night by the score of 4-3. With the way that they played, they are lucky it was that close.

    After the scrappy win in Montreal last Saturday, one expected a better effort from the team. Unfortunately there was a lot of sloppy play, bad penalties and hesitance on the power play.

    With that loss, the Penguins lost an emotional battle with what figures to be a main rival for the division crown. Maybe it was a case of looking ahead on the schedule.

    The Penguins now head in to Washington, DC to face the Capitals. Take a look at the slides for some of the main topics for the game.

    If you are interested in further coverage from Ernest, follow him on Twitter @shootinthepuck.

Defensive Sloppiness

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    Once again the team looked bad in its own end. This extends to the forwards as well.

    Focusing on proper assignments and simple plays to clear the zone are very important. This is especially true against a team, which like the Rangers, also has skilled forwards that can make plays with extended offensive zone time.

Dale Hunter

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    Hard to imagine the Capitals with a new coach, but now that Dale Hunter is in town that is the case. Older fans (like me) remember him from his playing days.

    They were not able to win his debut, but it may not be long before the team starts to conform to Hunter's demands. Let's hope that he has to wait at least one more night for his first win.

Struggling Stars

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    Alexander Semin was recently benched. Ovie has been in the funk of his career lately. The Capitals seem to currently lack direction.

    Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently put up this tweet that sums it all up. Over their past 82 games, Jordan Staal has two fewer goals than Alexander Ovechkin.

    That is great for Staalsie, but horrible for Ovie.

Rising Stars

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    The Penguins have some stars too, and they are coming in to their own. Sidney Crosby looks great in his return from the concussions.

    Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury are all coming off of strong stretches of play the past month. The team will look to these guys every night to carry it.

    Sometimes they will not be able to get it done, but as stars, they will need to continue to produce more often than not.

Injury Deja Vu?

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    With Zbynek Michalek and Kris Letang returning to Pittsburgh due to injury, the team's stretch of having a full lineup intact has ended again.

    Will this be short-lived or a return to a theme we have seen all too often?

Penguin Killer

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    I do not have a source for it, but I believe that Mike Knuble has scored in every game against the Penguins dating back to 1979.

    If that is an exaggeration, it seems slight, because Knuble just keeps getting goals against the Pens.