Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals

Tonight on NBCSN: Penguins-Capitals is now a battle to get in the playoffs


It wasn’t that long ago that a Penguins-Capitals game would be circled by lovers and haters everywhere as the one to watch. Tonight’s game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET) instead shapes up as one between teams looking to stay in the top eight in the Eastern Conference.

There’s still stars to be found even without Sidney Crosby. Alex Ovechkin is there for Washington although Nicklas Backstrom is still questionable after getting elbowed in the face by Rene Bourque. Evgeni Malkin is still scoring goals for Pittsburgh while Jordan Staal and Crosby are out. James Neal’s broken foot isn’t as broken as they thought it was and he’s still out there.

The sad part here though is that you don’t get the same buzz on this game that you used to.

The Pens are coming off a humbling loss at the hands of the Senators last night while the Caps are back at home after getting whooped on a short west coast trip that saw them lose back-to-back games 5-2 to the Kings and Sharks. When you look at the standings and expect to see the Caps and Pens at the top of the East, it’s a bit stunning to see them hovering around eighth and tenth instead. What a difference a year makes.

Seeing these two duke it out as the class of the East in the past brought the best out of both of them. Perhaps seeing them fight it out for a spot in the postseason can do likewise as they’ll see each other again in 11 days on NBC.

Ortio clears waivers, assigned to Flames’ AHL team

Joni Ortio
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Joni Ortio has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Stockton, the Calgary Flames announced today.

The 24-year-old goalie was always likely to clear, what with his dreadful numbers this season (0-2-1, .868),

But we suppose there was always the chance he’d get picked up, so it’s a relief for the Flames all the same. With a little more time to hone his game in the AHL, Ortio could still turn out to be a quality NHL netminder.

In a related move, veteran goalie Jonas Hiller has been activated from injured reserve. Hiller and Karri Ramo are the only goalies on the Flames’ active roster now.

Price placed on injured reserve; Yakupov to miss 2-4 weeks with sprained ankle

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Two injury updates in one post.

First, the situation with Montreal goalie Carey Price, who was hurt last night versus the Rangers.

According to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, Price has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. That means he’ll be out at least a week, though no exact timeline was provided.

“We don’t know how long Carey will be out, but for us it’s business as usual,” said Therrien.

Mike Condon will get the start tomorrow in New Jersey.

As for Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, he’ll be out 2-4 weeks after spraining his ankle last night in Carolina while getting tangled up with a linesman.

Getzlaf didn’t love the ‘dead’ atmosphere at Coyotes game

Martin Erat, Ryan Getzlaf

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t impressed with at least two things last night in Arizona:

1. His team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
2. The atmosphere inside Gila River Arena, where the announced attendance was just 11,578.

“It’s hard. When you come into a building … it’s dead,” Getzlaf told the O.C. Register. “Nothing against the fans. It’s hard to fill a big building like this and have the amount of people in it to build your energy. So you have to do it yourself. You have to be ready when you step on the ice. I thought we came out flat.”

Anaheim’s record fell to 8-11-4 with the defeat.

The Coyotes’ average attendance also fell, to 13,144 in eight games.

Jarred Tinordi becomes the latest youngster to be sent to the AHL for ‘conditioning’

Jarred Tinordi, Brendan Gallagher
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Like Frank Corrado (see here), Tomas Jurco (see here), Stanislav Galiev (see here), and Patrik Nemeth (see here) before him, Canadiens defenseman Jarred Tinordi is off to the AHL for a conditioning stint.

Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season; however, because he’s no longer exempt from waivers, the former first-round pick has remained on Montreal’s roster.

It’s an issue that’s received a good deal of attention lately. Some believe the league should do something about it, lest more young players get “stuck” in the NHL.

Tinordi will only be allowed to spend two weeks in St. John’s, as per the rules of his conditioning loan.

Safe to say, if you’re an NHL general manager who thinks Tinordi still has potential, Marc Bergevin would welcome your best offer.