When: 7:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: On TV locally in Pittsburgh (AT&T Sportsnet), New York (MSG Network), Sportsnet in Canada
Special!: We have a pledge drive for the Tree of Life synagogue that you can learn about here.
Opponent Track: They’re flying high on a three game winning streak including beating the Pens 6-3 on Tuesday. Read the NYI blog recap of the game for their perspective here
Pens Refresh: Lost 6-3, fire and/or trade everyone!
SBN Team Counterpart: Lighthouse Hockey
Tale of the Tape
—The Islanders continued to lead a charmed season in the PDO world. We asked last game how long it would continue, and the answer was “At least one more game” being as they only generated 10 shots in the first half of the whole game, yet 5 found the back of the net on some nice skill plays. Still, they’re asking their goalies to do an awful lot with shot breakouts like Tuesday night where it was a 22-6 advantage for Pittsburgh. That looks great to be able to finish on chances and enjoy good goaltending, until the point it dries up.
Player stats at a glance
—In last preview I almost pointed out “wow Jordan Eberle only has one goal all season, doesn’t he know it’s a contract year?” but let it be. So now, I guess I will point out that Josh Bailey and Mat Barzal - while playing very well - only have three total goals to go along with their boatload of assists.
—Lehner’s injury (more below) likely means Christopher Gibson will serve as the backup and Thomas Greiss will start.
Anthony Beauvillier - Mat Barzal - Jordan Eberle
Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey
Andrew Ladd - Valterri Filppula - Leo Komarov
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy / Ryan Pulock
Thomas Hickey / Scott Mayfield
Adam Pelech / Johnny Boychuk
—Yesterday the Islanders sent ex-Penguin Tom Kuhnhackl to AHL Bridgeport (tough break since he scored a goal against the Pens!) and called up Gibson in light of the injury suffered by Lehner. Clutterbuck has been out with a minor injury the last two games since October 27th.
—Last preview I mentioned how the 2nd line (namely Lee and Bailey) were responsible for all the offense in the game prior. So of course in the game against the Pens, the Isles 3rd line scored, the 4th line scored twice and Eberle scored twice (once on the power play). That’s hockey for ya.
—Ryan Pulock has a big shot from the point (and did have 3 assists and 5 shots attempts on Tuesday night) but getting offense from the defense has been a real problem for NYI early in the season. You wouldn’t know that since they did combine for 6 assists on Tuesday night, but even with that outburst the entire NYI defense only has 4 goals and 15 assists combined on the year.
—For reference on that last point; Letang, Oleksiak and Dumoulin have combined for 7 goals and 16 assists on their own, easily out-scoring the whole NYI blueline.
—The Pelech/Boychuk pair blocked 4 shots a piece on Tuesday night, those 8 shots made up 40% of the entire team total of 20 on the night.
—Last game we also talked about NYI balance and that was on display too; they only recorded 25 shots on goal, but of their 18 skaters 15 of them had at least 1 SOG (only Mayfield, Beauviller, Bailey were held without one). 12 of their 18 skaters recorded a point in the six goal outburst, yet only five had multi-point nights. A very balanced and spread attack by NHL standards.
And now for the Pens
Infographic courtesy of the Penguins:
(from Wednesday practice)
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon
Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel
Riley Sheahan - Matt Cullen - Patric Hornqvist
Bryan Rust- Derek Grant - Daniel Sprong
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Olli Maatta / Jamie Oleksiak
Jack Johnson / Chad Ruhwedel
Letang back in the saddle?
The Penguins #1 defenseman was out on Tuesday night, and the team predictably struggled defensively in his absence. However, #58 was able to take a full practice yesterday and said he felt “pretty good” afterwards. Letang was in his normal position on the #1 power play unit, which is a clear sign that, as of yesterday, it looks like he should be playing tonight.
Brassard “status quo”
Coach Mike Sullivan described Derick Brassard as “status quo”, meaning no change or update aside from clarifying that the center did not skate at all again on Wednesday and will not make the trip with the team to New York. Brassard was injured last Thursday (Oct 25) in Calgary, a real shame since he tallied three assists in the game prior to getting hurt. His official status is “day-to-day” but based on typical recovery it doesn’t look like he is all that close as of now to playing in the immediate future, including of course tonight.
The road ahead
After the conclusion of the home-and-home with NYI, Pittsburgh heads back home for two games; first on Saturday night against Toronto and then Monday night against the New Jersey Devils. The Pens “every other game” schedule continues with a quick trip down to DC to see the Capitals for the second time this season next Wednesday (11/7) before getting a two-day break to prepare to see coach Rick Tocchet and suddenly red hot Arizona Coyotes.