Caps vs. Pens.
Alex vs. Sid.
And, of course, Brent vs. his former teammates.
Tonight's game has got it all. But since the first two rivalries have been done to death, let's talk about the other one, shall we?
Brent Johnson spent the previous four seasons in Washington and was one of the most popular players in the dressing room. But tonight he'll be in the Penguins' net, facing his former buddies in the most anticipated game of the regular season.
Johnson doesn't talk in the morning on game days, and today was no exception. But Bruce Boudreau shared his thoughts on "Johnny," who, as I pointed out last night, is 4-0-0 with a 1.16 goals against average and a .956 in his career vs. Washington.
"He's a tremendous guy," he said. "We love Brent. He was a really good goalie, too. We were sad to see him go, but when you've got young guys that we had, I guess you have to make decisions. It was tough. But we were glad he bounced back. We wish he wasn't here, but he's a good goalie, so we have our hands full."
Boudreau also said he doesn't believe the Caps' familiarity with Johnson, and vice versa, will have any effect. (I still say it's worth looking to see whether Alex Ovechkin and Co. will pick on Johnson's blocker side.)
"You can think of five reasons why it's an advantage for Brent, and you can think of five reasons an advantage for us," Boudreau added. "But in the scheme of things, the goalies play the way they play. Only if you have a breakaway do you think of what his tendencies are. Usually it's bang-bang situations."
Johnson will face Jose Theodore.
Some other notes and quotes from the Caps' second-to-last regular season morning skate at Mellon Arena:
*As you've seen by now, rookie John Carlson has been recalled and might play tonight. Boudreau said a few players are nursing "ouchies." He wouldn't get specific, but the speculation is that Mike Green might not be able to play.
Green, who was involved in a heavy collision with Todd Bertuzzi on Tuesday and did not practice yesterday, skated this morning but looked awfully stiff. Green would only say "we'll see" when asked if he'll suit up. Boudreau said he's a game-time decision.
*Brian Pothier did not travel and won't play; John Erskine skated but stayed on the ice for extra work so it looks like he's out. Quintin Laing also stayed out, so it looks like he'll be a healthy scratch.
*Boudreau on whether he's seen any difference in Ovechkin since he became captain: "You guys build that so way out of proportion. There's no changes. Nobody changes."
*Based on the morning skate, the forward lines with be unchanged: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble; Laich-Fleischmann-Semin; Chimera-Morrison-Fehr; and Gordon-Steckel-Bradley.
The D-pairings will obviously depend on whether Green plays.
*And finally, the barista here at Starbucks is wearing a black Kris Letang jersey t-shirt. His name tag says he's from Woodbridge, Va. What's up with that?