It has been a long, long summer but hockey is finally back. Tonight, the Penguins return to the ice for the first time since May when they take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals in their season opener at PPG Paints Arena.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM and will be broadcast on AT&T Sports Network.
Prepare for tonight’s opener with this morning’s Pens Points...
It may not be permanent, but for the time being, defenseman Juuso Riikola is on the Penguins roster. Signed in the offseason from Finland, Riikola has taken the long winding road to make to it the NHL. [Pensburgh]
Riikola will be one of eight defenseman on the Penguins opening night roster, joining the likes of Kris Letang, Jack Johnson, and Justin Schultz. Playing the blue line in the Penguins system is not easy, because it relies so much on the defense moving the puck. It takes a special breed of player to work for Mike Sullivan and Co. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
There was very little roster movement for the Penguins over the summer, with much of the change coming to the bottom-six of the lineup. What changes were made shifted the demographics of the Penguins lineup slightly. This season, the roster is a little older, a tad taller, and a little less beefy. [Trib Live]
Looks like Brian Dumoulin will be good to go for tonight’s opener and that’s good news for defensive partner Kris Letang. Having Dumoulin on the ice could allow Letang to open up his offensive side a bit more with a safety blanket beside him. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
A strong, healthy season from Matt Murray will go a long way to propelling the Penguins towards another Stanley Cup. Murray will have a little extra incentive as to play well this season on top of just silencing the critics. On Wednesday, Murray announced his “Saves MATTer” where he will donate $30 for every save to various youth-based programs. [Pensburgh]
Sidney Crosby will begin his 14th NHL season tonight, and he’s more ready than ever to drop the puck. Already with three Stanley Cups under his belt, a focused and determined Crosby could be what sends the Pens back to the promised land. [Trib Live]
Playing for the Penguins bring its own kind of pressure and expectations, but there are a handful of players who face a little extra pressure either because of lackluster performances last season or needing to prove they are worth the money being paid to them. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Our friends over at Broad Street Hockey put together a nice Penguins season preview and they seem to be pretty high on the Penguins chances of capturing a third Stanley Cup championship in four seasons. [Broad Street Hockey]
A fun, little way to prepare for the new season is to set benchmarks for certain players or the team as a whole. Our newest addition, Adam Gretz, set some over/under marks for big name players and a point total for the team to reach. [Pensburgh]
For years, Daniel Sprong has been the top prospect in the Penguins organization. That title is now gone, as Sprong is expected to be a key contributor for the Penguins this season. Three years since his NHL debut, a lot has changed on and off the ice for Sprong. [Trib Live]
Social media engagement is a crucial part of the fan experience in 2018, and no one does it better than the Penguins social media team. They are so good, Sports Business Journal ranked the Pens social media team as the top in the NHL. [Penguins]
News and notes from around the NHL...
If you spend a lot of time following hockey in 2018, you’re likely to hear a lot about advanced stats and what they mean for the modern game. This can often get confusing and bogged down by terms you do not understand. Before the new season gets into gear, familiarize yourself with some of the terminology. [Sportsnet]
Washington Capitals’ forward Tom Wilson was suspended 20 games for his illegal check to the head of Blues’ forward Oskar Sundqvist on Sunday. The 20-game ban is the longest in the NHL since Raffi Torres was suspended 41 games in 2015. [ESPN]
In an attempt to limit distractions and focus on winning, the Vancouver Canucks have banned players from playing video games while on road trips. The ban includes the ever popular “Fortnite” which has some teams concerned about players becoming addicted to the game. [Deadspin]