PITTSBURGH (43-17-9) VS NEW JERSEY (26-31-12)
THE PAINT CAN. PITTSBURGH, PA.
7:00 PM EST. ROOT Sports
The Penguins are finally at home after the completion of a successful road trip that saw the team play 5 games in 8 days during which they picked up 7 of the possible 10 points. During the process the Penguins had a tying moment on top of the NHL standings with the Capitals, and now find themselves in third of the Metro after a Columbus win last night. The top 3 in the Metro is ridiculously tight, so getting worked up every time the Penguins and Blue Jackets switch positions is a waste of time right now. According to playoffstatus.com the Penguins magic number to clinch a playoff berth is 4. A lot of people take it for granted that the team will make the playoffs each year, but I’m one of those guys that will always remember “the dark ages” and there will always be a feeling of satisfaction when the Penguins clinch a berth to the dance.
For once the Penguins get the advantage of playing the team that played last night; the Devils knocked off the Champion Flyers last night, who came up short in a 6-2 beating during the defense of their Cup win on Wednesday. The win last night kept the Devils “alive” for the time being, but so far Ray Shero’s club hasn’t had the best of seasons. Currently they sit at the bottom of the Metro, 14 points out from the final playoff spot with 13 games remaining. It is safe to say that the Devil’s are going for the lottery pick, an absolutely brilliant move by Shero considering this is considered to be a below below average draft class. The most incredible part of the Devil’s season is Beau Bennett is in the starting lineup for game 70. Beau leaves Pittsburgh and now 7 players are injured for Pittsburgh, maybe Beau always being injured was saving the rest of the team? Just kidding, the Penguins are always injured.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
The Penguins lineup is a complete guess, but after the team sent Sundqvist and Archibald back to WBS yesterday the assumption is a forward currently injured will be playing. Out of the forwards on the team that are eligible it is between Patric Hornqvist (who was labeled as being “close” last game) and Tom Sestito (who just completed his 4 game suspension), please Penguins Lord let it be Hornqvist. If Hornqvist is back then it’s an interesting call for Sullivan to place the right winger, he usually plays with Crosby but I’m not so sure you break up the first line at the moment. I have a feeling Sullivan reunites Kessel with Bonino and puts Hornqvist with Geno, which isn’t a terrible idea considering Kessel hasn’t scored in over ten games. Another important note for this graphic is that at the time of writing this I haven’t read or found anything on the status of Hainsey (did not play third period in Philadelphia), so if he can’t go then it will be Gaunce. Finally, with the rate the Penguins seem to be falling and the amount of defenders not capable of playing 25 minutes a night (coughRuhweelcough) increasing, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Sullivan go with 11 forwards and 7 defenders in this game if Hornqvist isn’t ready.
As for the Devils, Taylor Hall scored a sweet goal that broke Mason last night. Other than Beau Bennett the only names on the Devils roster that you know is probably limited to just their first line, so that explains their season. The last time these two met Mike Lange was going on and on about how the Devils defense is made up of all undrafted players or something like that.
WHO TO WATCH:
FOR NEW JERSEY: Yeah, him again
I’m pretty sure every time the Pens have played the Devils I have put Palmieri here, but that’s because he consistently scores against the Penguins. Palmieri leads the Devils with 23 goals and 23 assists in 69 games. Taylor Hall has matched Palmieri’s 46 points to tie for the team lead, but for some reason Kyle Palmieri loves scoring against the Penguins.
FOR PITTSBURGH: AWE, YOU GUYS
Early yesterday evening Michelle Crechiolo dropped this article about the Crosby and Malkin bromance. Pat and Leah teared up discussing it on their podcast, pretty sure they edited out the part where Pat had to go get tissues for his tears but we all know the truth. In terms of their season however, Malkin and Crosby have been a little more silent than usual and something tells me a game against the Devils in Pittsburgh is exactly what the two need.
I can’t believe Ray Shero let the trade deadline come and go without acquiring Derrick Pouliot for 3 2nd round picks, huge missed opportunity by Rutherford. This is a game where you want the Pens to come out and dominate from start to finish, but it’s essential to remember that just because they are home doesn’t mean they are rested. The team has still only had one day off between games (a pace they continue for another week and a half), so if they don’t come out looking well rested tonight it doesn’t mean they have lost their step, it means they are tired. Not every loss at this part of the season with this depleted lineup needs to be analyzed. 16 games in one calendar month is a massacre, factor in the 6-8 missing players per game including 3 of the top 6 defenders and anything over a 8-8 finish is an accomplishment to say the least.