Pittsburgh Penguins @ Calgary Flames
Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary, Alberta
8:30 PM EST. ATTSN
Good news fam, the Pens won last night so they get to continue on with their season and we get to continue blogging about it. The Penguins are back at it to complete their 5th back-to-back in the first 5 weeks of the season, so they only have 14 to go after this! Something that is often overlooked in these situations is that the Penguins played the night before but so far this season the other team didn’t and tonight is no different. The Flames had last night off while the Pens were in Edmonton, giving Jaromir Jagr one more day to heal a nagging injury that has kept him out for a week. It’s 2017 and I am including Jaromir Jagr in a fucking gameday, it’s ridiculous.
The Flames are 6-6-0 on the season and normally I would say this is a perfect trap game but so far that can be said for games 1 through 14. The Flames have an odd mix of skill and what the fuck on their roster, so a .500 record is what you could and should expect from this team.
After watching his team struggle in 5 on 5 play without any major changes Mike Sullivan decided to flip everything around last night in Edmonton, and I’ve put his starting lines from that game in this image. Yes, Reaves was still in. No, Sullivan didn’t use him a lot (not saying he should). Hagelin, not Reaves, was scratched for Archibald, I have no clue what is going on. Also note that Frankie Corrado was allowed time off from the mob to play for Trotman.
Personally I like that Sullivan finally made changes to his lineup last night, it shows that he is frustrated and will not be complacent with a stagnant outcome. I don’t know if he will roll with these same combinations or start to tweak them more, but it feels like he is searching for a strong top 9 that he can roll consistently to give Crosby and Malkin less minutes. For example last night the difference in ice time between Crosby and Sheahan was less than 3 minutes. So far this year we’ve seen Sid with 24-25 minutes and the third line center with 15-17, so obviously a three minute gap and less ice time in game 15 is preferred. Only time will tell if Sullivan’s changes will be effective, but time is measured in history, and Sullivans history of finding the right combinations is pretty good. Of special note is Jake Guentzel had the third lowest ice time last night with just over 10 minutes after committing three minor penalties; if Sullivan lets Jake out of his dog house the young winger should have fresh legs and could be a huge spark for the Pens tonight. In addition to Jake, Carl Hagelin also has fresh legs since he didn’t play last night, and if it was simply a healthy scratch he may be more than fired up to “stick it to his coach” tonight.
Who to Watch:
For Pittsburgh: Tristan Jarry
Assuming he doesn’t do the unthinkable and start Murray in back-to-backs again, Tristan Jarry should get the nod tonight. Jarry made his NHL debut on April 9th last season against the Rangers, a 22 saves on 25 shot loss. He also made multiple stellar saves (see gif above) and was playing in front of a team gearing up for the playoffs (see: didn’t care, much like the team he plays behind tonight).
For Calgary: Johnny Hockey
I would put Double J here, but he isn’t gauranteed to play, and honestly Johnny Gaudreau doesn’t get enough hype. In a league with Crosby, McDavid, etc, etc, etc it is super easy to overlook talent like Gaudreau and it’s such a damn shame. A total package player, if he gets matched up against someone not named Brian Dumoulin then Tristan Jarry may be requesting a recall. He may be a little disappointed that he doesn’t get to wear this beauty for the olympics though
American hockey hasn’t seen something this disgraceful since the World Cup roster.
Will the trend of losing the second of a back-to-back continue? Honestly you will be able to tell within 20 minutes, because the Penguins have lost every back-to-back situation within the first 20 minutes of the second game. If the Pens can come out and play their game, even if they don’t take a lead in to the locker room after one, it will be a positive that they can build on.