PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS DALLAS STARS
PPG PAINTS ARENA – PITTSBURGH, PA
7:30 PM EST. NBCSN
Just 24 hours after the Penguins fell 5-2* to the Leaves in Toronto last night in their 69th (nice) game of the season, the team that this blog writes about plays host to the playoff hopeful Dallas Stars in a rare Sunday night, nationally televised matchup.
Luv u bby. Not going to get into the horseshit goaltender interference call last night. You know what happened and the impact it eventually had. Gotta put it behind you and get the two points tonight.
Both of these two teams come into this matchup sitting on 82 points and trending similarly over the last month plus of the season, racking up 23 points (Pens) and 22 points (Stars) since February started. Both will also be without their starting goaltenders, as they have been for the last few games.
However, they exist in two distinctly different realms in their respective playoff races, making this second and final matchup of the year between the two (and last Western Conference team the Pens face this season) all that more important for both of them.
With the Caps winning last night, they sit a point clear of the Pens atop the Metro with a game in hand.
A similar logjam exists for the Stars, 3 points back from the #3 spot in the Central while currently occupying the top Wild Card slot and a potential first round matchup with the Golden Knights of Las Vegas.
Can’t imagine too much changing from the Leaves game, so it’s safe to assume the lines will stick and DeSmith, who came in in relief of Jarry in the 3rd to make 9 saves, gets the nod.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- John Klingberg – Depending on who you ask, John Klingberg is very possibly your Norris winner this year. The 25 year old Swede scored one of his 7 goals on the season the last time these two teams met back on February 9th, but it was also the last time he found the back of the net. He leads all defensemen in points (57) and is averaging 0.84 points per game, just .01 back of the leader among d-men in that category that actually play (Tyson Barrie). You’ll see a lot of him tonight, averaging 23:43 of ice time, including 3:41 on the PP.
- Powerplays – Here are two teams that take a metric fuckload of minor penalties. Coming into tonight, the Stars have taken the 3rd most minors (258), while the Penguins aren’t far behind them in 6th (255). Coincidentally, it means the Stars have been shorthanded the 5th most in the league, compared to the Pens at 11th. Safe to say there will be PP chances. While the Stars are currently ranked 20th in PP% at 19.7%, this is a team that is rife with skill on the PP. The 4some of Seguin, Benn, Radulov, and Klingberg have the ability to flat out explode with the man-advantage. The Penguins, on the other hand, still maintain that top ranked PP despite seeing some struggles as of late. Since the start of February, the Pens powerplay is the 11th best, clicking at 23.1%. While that’s not a bad number, they’ve scored just 9 times on 39 chances over that stretch, which is the least amount of PP chances across the league. With the potentially penalty trouble Dallas can get into, look for the Pens PP to get back on track tonight.
- Evgeni Malkin – Nobody in the league has been a badder mafukka since the turn of the calendar than Evgeni Malkin. On his current tear, he’s posted a sickening 24G-25A-49P in 29 games, 10 more points than both Connor McJesus and Sidney Crosby. Good luck stopping him, @NHL.
Smoke the Stars.