The Pittsburgh Penguins (43-17-9) have the second-most points (95) in all of hockey. Unfortunately, their division rival, the Washington Capitals (45-17-7) have the most (97).
Can Pittsburgh catch Washington in the standings?
“I do (think they can),” Penguins color analyst Phil Bourque said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They’re even in games now, and Washington hasn’t had a whole lot to play for during the season. Everything has kind of gone their way. They have had the fewest man games lost in the whole league. The Penguins are able to do what they’ve been doing with (Kris) Letang out, (Trevor) Daley out, (Olli) Maatta out, (Patric) Hornqvist out, (Carl) Hagelin out. They’re doing all this with all these key guys out. They’re going to start getting some fresh bodies back. It’s almost like making trades after the trade deadline. But absolutely, the Penguins can hunt down (the Capitals). This is the first time I think the Penguins are actually looking at the standings, looking at what could be as (the regular season comes to a close), thinking, ‘Wow, winning the Metropolitan division is a big deal.’ So I think they are hunting down the Caps big time.”
Pittsburgh, of course, won the Stanley Cup last year. Now the Penguins are trying to do it again.
“It’s the hardest thing, I think, in all of sports to do,” Bourque said. “To win it one time, to win 16 games, to play an 82-game schedule and you play an extra 20-24 postseason games and you have to win 16 more games, it is by far the most physical, demanding thing in all of sports. To do it in back-to-back years when you’re on top of the mountain and everybody’s crawling up that mountain and they are trying everything possible to knock you off, and to do it in back-to-back years, it is the most physically demanding thing you can do. You are completely drained when you do accomplish it. But the Penguins can do it. If they get healthy, this is a team that’s built to win again and go back-to-back.”
Sidney Crosby, with 35 goals and 39 assists, leads Pittsburgh in points (74). Alex Ovechkin, meanwhile, leads Washington in goals (38), is fourth in assists (30) and second in points (58).
Crosby has two Stanley Cup titles and one Conn Smythe Trophy. Ovechkin doesn’t have either.
“(When) everything is on the line, do you want Sidney Crosby on your team, or do you want Alexander Ovechkin on the team?” Bourque asked, clearly favoring Crosby. “And listen, don’t get me wrong: I appreciate everything that Alexander Ovechkin can do on the offensive side of the puck. I understand he’s a special talent. But when it comes down to more than talent, when it comes down to the fiber of your being, I’ll take 87 over No. 8.”