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The Sports Daily > The Pensblog
GAMEDAY 66: Can I Use that Number?

PITTSBURGH (41-16-8) VS EDMONTON (35-23-8)

ROGERS PLACE. EDMONTON, ALBERTA

9:00 PM EST. ROOT Sports


Tonight the Penguins continue their Canadian road trip with a swing through Edmonton followed by Vancouver tomorrow. Some people think this matchup tonight would make for a great Stanley Cup Finals. I think they are strung out on meth. Edmonton is good, and they are going to be very good, but they are also the 2007 Penguins at this point. It should be a celebration that the Oilers finally made it back to the playoffs and nothing more, there is no point in having expectations beyond that because that should’ve been the ultimate goal at the beginning of the season. If the playoffs started today Edmonton would be looking at a first round match up with the Ducks. If Edmonton slips a tad to the first wild card spot they are looking at the Sharks. It would be in the best interest of the Oilers to face the Ducks in the first round in my uneducated opinion, but it would also be hilarious if the Oilers eliminated the Sharks in the first round as well. Here is the picture out west:

The West is almost finished. Yeah things can happen in the final 16 games, but a 7 point cushion between the wild card spots is not an easy amount to overcome. While we’re here, and since the game is agains the Oilers tonight and we don’t really care about them here is a look at the East:

The top 3 Metro teams are better than the top Central team. The last 4 years the media has been selling the central division kool-aid, and much like anything else that comes out of the collective mouths of NBCSN it tasted like shit then and it looks retarded now. The metro playoffs are going to be a blood bath full of hate. I almost feel the Penguins should give certain players a week off here and there due to “injury” so they can rest them…

So back to the Oilers, is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins any good?

The excuse used to be he was on an underachieving team and doing his best. Now he is on an overachieving team and is doing nothing. From 2012-16 RNH notched 170 points in 251 games for a PPG of 0.677. So far this season he is on a much improved team clicking at a PPG of 0.485. After all of the hype leading up to him being drafted we have no other choice but to believe this is just another product of horrible development in Edmonton. The Oilers got lucky with McDavid because it doesn’t take a lot to develop a world class talent like that, otherwise they would’ve found a way to screw him up too. Hell, they still might. Sidney Crosby had all the tools in the tool box when he came to the Penguins, but he had to develop the knowledge that comes with the NHL, and he had the presence of teammates and management to help him through that. McDavid has Milan Lucic.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:

The Penguins lost Tom Sestito to a 4 game suspension thanks to his IQ being a 26. Luckily for the Penguins they weren’t planning on giving Sestito four more games this season so it doesn’t change much except maybe they will never make the mistake of calling him up again. Patric Hornqvist is out with a concussion or something, so my guess is Rowney gets into this game. The Pens haven’t called anyone else up and the team is already in Edmonton so it seems like a safe bet. I don’t know if Rowney on the third line is what Sullivan would do, I just slotted him there because it’s a hell of a lot easier than trying to figure out what Sullivan will do. The Pens defensive pairings should remain the same, and Edmonton’s speed will be a good match for them. The Pens are playing back-to-backs, but then play 2 more road games in 4 days after tomorrow. I would go with Murray in this one, Fleury tomorrow and have Murray finish the road trip but I’m just a dude that types words for strangers.

There isn’t much to say about the Oilers. Looking at their forwards there are about 7-8 players that are recognizable, and the rest could be made up for all I know. The Oilers defense should get an award for having a positive goal differential this year, because on paper they don’t look great. It helps when Cam Talbot is playing out of his mind most nights for sure. Regardless of Talbot’s season, if the Oilers are truly interested in getting 2 points tonight they should definitely start Brossoit. That name alone translates to shut-out in Penguinese.

WHO TO WATCH:

FOR EDMONTON:

66 GP 22 G 52 A 74 P

I feel a little cheap here because I picked him last time but it’s just the obvious call. In the last meeting between these teams it was our first look at McDavid and he did not disappoint. His speed is off the charts. When you only get to play a team like this twice a year, there really isn’t a point in trying to find someone else to keep your eye on the entire time.

FOR PITTSBURGH:

59 GP 34 G 36 A 70 P

With the storm McDavid brought to the early part of the season Sidney Crosby said ‘not yet, kid’ and has reminded us all why he is still considered the best. It’s been a few games since Crosby has scored, but something about playing McDavid in Canada tells me he will be pretty amped up for this game.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

With the way Evgeni Malkin is playing the Oilers should pray that I am wrong about Crosby stepping up his game tonight. What the Penguins did to the Jets after the first period the other night was a wake up call to the league. If they come in and build on that game tonight will serve as a wakeup call to the Oilers. There are 16 games left before the dance begins, and the Penguins are starting to put the pieces that aren’t broken into place. Tonight should be an exciting game, the last matchup between the two certainly was. The biggest sign will be the Penguins defense being able to contain the speed of Edmonton, but without Daley and Maatta back there they are infinitely faster already. Looking forward to this one, and something tells me the Penguins are too before mailing it in tomorrow night in Vancouver.

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