Penguins @ Coyotes
Gila River Arena – Glendale, AZ
9:00PM Eastern – AT&TSN | FS-A
The Penguins continue their road trip through the West with a visit to former Penguins’ Assistant and now Coyotes’ Head Coach Rick Tocchett. This game is the first of a weekend back-to-back carrying the Penguins into the All-Star Break and the fourth of a five-game road-trip.
The Penguins have lost two straight on the road trip, having fallen to both the Kings and Sharks by 5-2 totals. The Penguins bested the Coyotes 4-0 in early November behind a 39-save shutout from Casey The Smith.
The Penguins have been posturing as of late, with the NHL tradewinds picking up. They made a minor move that feels like a precursor of sorts, shipping Derek Grant to Anaheim in exchange for Joseph Blandisi in a move that looks to be angled at getting Garrett Wilson some more ice. He’s been strangely effective and the Grant deal seems to have brought that more to the forefront as a potential motivator for the move.
Being that Blandisi was with the Ducks on the West Coast, he was able to join the Penguins for practice yesterday where he slotted in and rotated with a recovering Patric Hornqvist, who changed from a non-contact jersey to full gear to take contact at yesterday’s skate.
Guentzel – Crosby – Rust
Sheahan – Malkin – Kessel
Pearson – Brassard – Simon
Blandisi – Cullen – Wilson/Hornqvist
Dumoulin – Letang
Maatta – Riikola
Pettersson – Johnson
The Coyotes enter tonight’s game in 6th place in the Pacific and 13th in the Western Conference, ahead of just Los Angeles and Chicago. They’ve struggled at home, going just 9-12-2 in their 23 tilts at Gila River Arena.
They’re led by young Clayton Keller’s 32 points on the season, and they’ve got just 3 double-digit goal scorers: Brad Richardson (11), Christian Fischer (11), and Richard Panik (10).
Goalie Antii Raanta has been dealing with an injury that has kept him sidelined for most of the season, though surprisingly they’ve allowed the 5th fewest goals in the West. The problem though, if we look at the numbers from the previous paragraph, is scoring. Their 122 goals on the season is 3rd worst in the league, again better than only Los Angeles and Chicago in both the Conference and the League.
Along with Tocchett’s Pittsburgh ties, former Penguins Josh Archibald and Alex Goligoski will suit up against their former squad tonight.
Keller – Weal – Fischer
Panik – Stepan – Hinostroza
Galchenyuk – Cousins – Garland
Crouse – Kempe – Archibald
Ekman-Larsson – Hjalmarsson
Chychrun – Lyubushkin
Oesterle – Goligoski
Dump the Desert Dogs.