Game time: 10:00 PM Eastern (#PensAfterDark time for the next 3 games on the West coast swing)
TV: Root Sports
Last year: Was a DISASTER. The Penguins lost 3-0 to Vancouver on December 4th, then followed it up with a 5-0 loss to the Canucks on February 7th for one of their least inspired games of the season. So hey, score one goal and that's already an improvement on last season's series against Van-city.
SBN Canucks blog: Nucks Misconduct - just don't go talking any of them pesky fancy stats!
Vancouver update: 6-2-4 (16 points), 2nd place Pacific Division.
Hidden stat: Vancouver's +10 goal differential is the best current mark in the Western Conference
It's still Miller time
Much like Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh, Ryan Miller is really carrying the mail for the Canucks. The 35 year old goalie has played in 11 of the team's 12 games, with a 5-2-4 record and a solid .927 save percentage to go along with a 2.06 goals against average.
Miller's had a great career, but the Penguins have been one of the few teams to have his number. Miller's got just a 8-13-3 record all-time against Pittsburgh, with a 3.15 GAA and .893 save percentage when facing the skating Penguin. That's his lowest save percentage (min. 10 games) against any one franchise over the years.
Kunitz's status for tonight in flux
Mike Johnston gave the crystal clear update yesterday of Chris Kunitz's availability, "he’s a bit banged up. Right now, there’s no signal that he’ll either play or not play." Kunitz has missed the last couple days of practice, and I don't believe has actually skated since Saturday night's game.
Rookie Daniel Sprong is expected to slot back into the lineup if Kunitz can not play.
(from Tuesday's practice, subject to change)
Pascal Dupuis - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
David Perron - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel
Daniel Sprong - Nick Bonino - Beau Bennett
Sergei Plotnikov - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr
Kris Letang - Ian Cole
Brian Dumoulin - Ben Lovejoy
Olli Maatta - Rob Scuderi
Player to watch
19 year old Jared McCann (the first round pick in 2014) is making the most of his NHL opportunity with 5 goals, no assists in 10 games so far this season. McCann also has 3 goals in the last week, and is shooting a totally sustainable 29.4% on the season.
He's still playing limited, sheltered minutes and is far from a focal point of the team right now, but the youngster is showing the talent that made him a first round pick and he's off to a fast start.
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Radim Vrbata
Sven Bartschi - Brandon Sutter - Jake Virtanen
Alex Burrows - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen
Adam Cracknell - Jared McCann - Derek Dorsett
Alexander Edler - Chris Tanev
Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber
Ben Hutton - Matt Bartkowski
It's Brandon Sutter! Sutter's off to a good start with 3 goals and 4 assists so far this season. He was given a 5 year contract extension (worth $4.375 million per season) to kick in next year with no-trade protection, so he'll presumably be in Vancouver for a while. It will be interesting to see how they use him in the years to come with a nucleus of solid young players (McCann, Virtanen, Horvat, Bartschi) coming up the ranks quickly. For now, he's being used quite heavily with his 19:30 leading all forwards on the team through the first month of the season.
Also a shoutout to Mt. Lebanon's Matt Bartkowski, who scored his first career NHL goal earlier this season on October 18th. He signed as a free agent over the summer and it was nice to see him find a spot to continue his NHL career. Bartkowski liked scoring so much he even added his second career NHL goal last game out against the Flyers, just like a good Pittsburgh kid.
Infographic from the Pens