Afternoon hockey pits the Pens and Devils for one more game this season
When: 12:30 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, MSG+ in New York/New Jersey, NHL Network across the country
Opponent Track: New Jersey is up to eight losses in a row now after getting smacked 5-1 by the Pens on Thursday night. However, if they need any encouragement it could be what happens next: NJ’s four games after this are all against the Philadelphia Flyers, and we know the Flyers love to lose to teams on double digit losing streaks.
Pens path ahead: The Pens will have to flip the page quickly, as the Bruins will be in town for a game tomorrow at 3PM. Boston sticks around to play again at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday night. Later next week, Pittsburgh hits the road to play games in Washington on Thursday and next Saturday 5/1, followed by two games in Philly on 5/3 and 5/4.
Season Series: Tonight is the eighth and final Pens/Devils game of the season, all of which have been in about the last five weeks. It’s a 5-1-1 season series for Pittsburgh so far against Jersey (2-5-0 from their perspective).
Date Location Score GWG
Mar. 18 at New Jersey 3-2 L T. Zajac
Mar. 20 at New Jersey 3-1 W B. Rust
Mar. 21 at Pittsburgh 2-1 OTL J. Bratt
Apr. 9 at New Jersey 6-4 W S. Crosby
Apr. 11 at New Jersey 5-2 W J. Guentzel
Apr. 20 at Pittsburgh 7-6 W S. Crosby
Apr 22. at Pittsburgh 5-1 W C. Ceci
Recent History: Pittsburgh is 8-2-1 in its last eleven games against New Jersey dating back to Feburary 19, 2019 and 5-0-1 against NJ in the last five games.
Hidden Stat: Today begins a back-to-back situation for Pittsburgh. So far this season, the Penguins are 10-3-1 totals in b-2-b’s (7-0-0 the first night; 3-3-1 the second night).
SBN Team Counterpart: Check out All About the Jersey for the latest news to know about the Devils.
Player Stats at a Glance
—The Pens have had their way with Wedgewood and Dell this week, two of probably the bottom of the barrel for NHL goaltenders this season in terms of talent and results.
—Seeing NJ’s leading scorer have just 25 points is eye-opening too. They’re going to need more talent to get this turned around. For comparison, Jared McCann has 25 points this season (and he’s missed 13 games to injury!) Evgeni Malkin has 24 points this season, and he’s missed almost 20 games!
Janne Kuokkonen – Jack Hughes – Yegor Sharangovich
Pavel Zacha – Nico Hischier – Nathan Bastian
Miles Wood – Michael McLeod – Jesper Bratt
Andreas Johansson – Jesper Boqvist – Nick Merkley
Ryan Murray / Matt Tennyson
Jonas Siegenthaler / Damon Severson
Will Butcher / Connor Carrick
Possible Starting goalie: ?
Scratches: P.K. Subban (COVID protocol), Ty Smith, Mackenzie Blackwood (injured?), Nolan Foote, Mikhail Maltsev (COVID protocol)
—Mackenzie Blackwood practiced yesterday and is a possibility to play today. The Devils need him to play, and need him to play well. Goaltending has been a MAJOR issue for NJ this week against the Pens, giving up 12 goals in the two games, several of which on stoppable shots.
—But the news was mixed as Ty Smith didn’t cleanly get through practice and coach Lindy Ruff downgraded hope that the talented young defenseman would be able to be in the lineup today.
—Forward Janne Kuokkanen missed yesterday’s practice with a maintenance day.
—After scoring a goal against the Pens on Tuesday, Nolan Foote found himself a healthy scratch on Thursday….Interesting
Devils have to dig deep
After taking a tough 5-1 loss on Thursday, the Devils are on a long losing streak and look like they’re at the end of their rope. The end of the season can’t come quickly enough for them at this point.
#NJDevils Lindy Ruff on the psyche of his team:
“It’s an awfully disappointed group.”
Says his job is to lift them up. “It’s up to me.”
— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) April 23, 2021
And now for the Pens..
Friday’s practice lines
Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Bryan Rust
Jared McCann – Jeff Carter – Jason Zucker
Zach Aston-Reese – Teddy Blueger – Kasperi Kapanen
Colton Sceviour – Mark Jankowski – Evan Rodrigues
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Mike Matheson / Cody Ceci
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Possible starting goalie: Casey DeSmith
Scratches: Radim Zohorna, Chad Ruhwedel, Mark Friedman, Sam Lafferty, Frederick Gaudreau (injured)
IR: Evgeni Malkin, Brandon Tanev
Taxi Squad: Juuso Riikola, Yannick Weber, Emil Larmi, Maxime Lagace
—Malkin joined the team yesterday in practice, but in a non-contact format. It doesn’t look like he’ll be back as soon as today, but he could be looking to get back in at some point next week.
—In the middle of Thursday’s game Kapanen had supplanted Rodrigues in his spot on the third line and that’s how the Pens looked again yesterday in practice. The pieces and combinations that Sullivan can create throughout his top nine now as the team gets healthier is pretty exciting.
—This weekend is pretty interesting, two games in two days. Typically the starter always plays that first game for Sullivan, but the opponents are different with the much stronger Bruins game tomorrow. As such, there was an indication yesterday that Sullivan might reverse the rotation. DeSmith was the first goalie off the ice at practice, which can be a suggestion that he will be playing the next day. Typically the guy planning to play doesn’t get extra work in at the end of practice, like Tristan Jarry did yesterday.
—If that holds, look for DeSmith to play today against NJD and Jarry to get the nod tomorrow against Boston.