Pittsburgh (11-5-3) VS New York (14-5-1)
Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NY
7:00 PM EST. ROOT Sports
The Penguins enter the big apple tonight with a few more questions than answers. If you only followed Twitter for hockey updates you would be convinced that the Penguins are not a Stanley Cup contender, they aren’t playing like they want to win, and the team can’t match up to other teams that “copied” their style.
Here is the hottest of hot takes for you Jack, it’s November. Last November, if you were a fan, you were watching Mike Johnston suffocate Sidney Crosby by forcing him to play a defensive system that was as exciting as waiting for Vegas to release their team name (Golden Showers… solid choice). The Penguins finished last November with a record of 13-8-2 for the season (currently 11-5-3), still had Rob Scuderi, and you only knew Carl Hagelin as that fast guy from the Rangers. If Stanley Cup champions could be predicted in November, we wouldn’t watch hockey after Christmas, and then we would be stuck with whatever sport is on after Christmas that isn’t hockey. The Penguins are far from perfect right now, and that is fine. That is what this time of the season is for. I can’t believe the Steelers are still “competitive” enough that the bandwagoners aren’t here yet and we already have to explain this stuff.
A home and home is a perfect opportunity for tweaks and adjustments, and I expect we will see some tonight. The Penguins mixed up their defensive pairings in practice yesterday, and hopefully they decide to roll with the new pairings in this game. Finally, to end this rant, there is no dogging on other teams for “copying” style. Jim Rutherford said it himself in his Player’s Tribune article, when a team wins the cup, other teams try to mimic what worked. Rutherford recognized that the Rangers were faster than the Penguins, so he went out and made the team faster, to which the Rangers have responded and made their team faster. The result of all of this is three very good hockey teams in the Metropolitan Division, which in the long run will make the Penguins a better team. This division isn’t a joke right now except for the Flyers, and every point is earned. Does it suck losing to divisional foes? Absolutely, but earning those points is a sweet, sweet sensation, and hopefully the Penguins can earn them tonight.
Projected Starting Lineups:
I went ahead and put in the defensive pairings as they were in practice yesterday, other than that there shouldn’t be too many changes from last game. Hornqvist is still going through concussion protocol, and Kunitz is labeled as week-to-week with some sort of old man injury. I pray that MMX is in goal tonight, otherwise twitter might explode.
Players to Watch:
For New York: Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist is a great goalie, we aren’t stupid. But he also lost his shit and gave us one of the most gif worthy opportunities ever, coupled with Marc-Andre Fleury calling his antics “Baby stuff” in a post game interview. Shoutout to common commenter here, @SSGeno who made this beauty for pens.hockey, and man does it strike a nerve with Rags fans, so we just had to post it today.
For Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh
The two men that give the most net front presence are out of the lineup, someone needs to be accountable for this void and fill in. The defensive pairings haven’t been clearing pucks or bodies, someone needs to be accountable. The power play is giving up more shorthanded shots than they are taking, it is time to be accountable for that.
The Penguins attempted to beat the Rangers on Monday night by playing 20 minutes of hockey. It was a good plan, because had it worked they would’ve saved a lot of effort. It didn’t work however, and the Rangers handled the Pens with ease. Tonight, it would be nice to see some adjustments made, and perhaps a full 60 minute effort would help. I think I speak for everyone when I say I really can’t wait for the hot takes on Murray vs Fleury on twitter after a save or goal is made. A win tonight will have to be earned, and believe me or not, even if the Penguins lose this game too, it means dick about the playoffs.
LET’S GO PENS!
Nothing to listen to at work today? Check out Pat and Leahs podcast here, great content as always as they dive in to the current Pens playing, defensive pairings, Jake from Wilkes-Barre, and much more.
Also be sure to check out Jesse Marshall’s latest post here where he throws down the stats about the Penguins goalie battle.
Don’t forget to play #maattamegamillions with @penshockeyblog