Talking points from two heavyweight showdowns on NHL Sunday

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nicklas Backstrom (19)
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

We have two clash of the titans showdowns in the NHL today.

It is another Hockey Sunday in the NHL and, while we only have two games on the schedule, they are two huge ones with the Washington Capitals at the Pittsburgh Penguins (3:00 p.m. ET), and the Colorado Avalanche taking on the Vegas Golden Knights in a mouthwatering West Division battle later (7:00 p.m. ET). It is about quality and not quantity as they say, and that’s certainly the case today.

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I mean, we get another duel between two of the greatest players to have ever laced them up in Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, while the Golden Knights and the Avalanche are two of the big favorites for the Stanley Cup in 2020-21, and both teams will be directly battling it out for the top seed in the West.

Therefore, we should see plenty of fireworks across the two games and there are a plethora of storylines to keep an eye on, including the fact that the Capitals have not played in a week due to COVID-19 issues impacting other teams in the East Division, while Nathan MacKinnon could make his return for the Avalanche tonight. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some storylines to keep an eye on across tonight’s two games…

The top talking points in the two games on NHL Sunday

Alex Ovechkin (8)
Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Return of the Caps

The 2020-21 NHL season was always going to be weird and so it has proved with COVID-19 outbreaks impacting the flow of the year so far. The Central Division was badly impacted in the opening couple of weeks of the season and now it is the turn of the East Division, with the Buffalo Sabres and the New Jersey Devils currently on hiatus after both teams were hit by a COVID-19 outbreak.

As a result, the Washington Capitals have not played since Feb. 7, with their last three outings being postponed due to COVID-19, so they will no doubt be eager to get back on the ice today especially considering that they have dropped their last three, including a 7-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last Monday.

The Caps, who are 6-3-3 on the year and are currently third in the East Division, will benefit from their short break, though, given that they will get a plethora of key faces back for today’s showdown against one of their biggest rivals. Defenseman Justin Schultz and forwards T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana are all expected to return to the Washington lineup and it will be the first time that the Capitals have boasted a full and healthy lineup since they lost 5-4 in Overtime to the Penguins on Jan. 19.

Having those players back, particularly Kuznetsov and Oshie, will give the Capitals some much-needed depth and quality and the fact that they will have fresh legs could prove to be advantage against a Pittsburgh Penguins team who beat the New York Islanders 4-3 in a Shootout on Thursday night.