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Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Dallas Stars 11/21/2018; lines, preview, how to watch

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Thanksgiving eve hockey night in Pittsburgh!

Dallas Stars v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

Who: Dallas Stars (11-8-2; 24 points, 5th in Central Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (7-8-4; 18 points, 8th in Metropolitan Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: On TV locally in Pittsburgh (AT&T Sportsnet), and on Fox Sports Southwest in Dallas

Opponent Track: The Stars are playing their 4th game in 6 days tonight, and 3rd straight road game. They’re 2-1-0 in this little run, but are coming off a pretty flat 2-1 loss to the Rangers on Monday night (more below).

Pens Refresh: Everything remains awful with now just one win in the last 10 games.

SBN Team Counterpart: Defending Big D

Tale of the Tape

—About the only thing Dallas doesn’t do well is score goals. They’re top-10 in the league in goals allowed, shots allowed, penalty kill and save percentage. That looks like a pretty well-rounded type of team, but one perhaps lacking a bit of skill and depth.

—The Pens, comically enough, are even in goals allowed and scored and almost identical in shots on goal taken and allowed. They’re equally as wide-open all the way around.

Stars dimmed and Bishop injured in Manhattan

Dallas played pretty poorly last time out as noted by Defending Big D. To make matters worse, starting goalie Ben Bishop left after the 2nd period with an injury.

The team as a whole? Well, after a season-worst 17-shot performance that saw Dallas more or less wilt in the bright lights of Madison Square Garden over the final two periods, they looked, as Josh said on the broadcast, like a team who was playing its second in two days.

Both teams did, at times. It was a really messy game, filled with pucks slipping off sticks, dropped gloves, unsightly giveaways by all sorts of players, and injuries. Jason Dickinson took a puck or stick up high at one point, and of course Bishop ended up pulling his groin (my standard guess for goaltender injuries) or something. This wasn’t a game Dallas deserved to win...

***

But the long and the short of it is, Dallas didn’t generate enough, and they weren’t tidy enough to squeeze blood from the stone hands that were playing this game.

It remains to be seen how they will bounce back but we know they will not have Bishop available tonight.

Bishop has been the workhorse, starting 15 of the team’s 21 games so far this season and posting a solid .923 save percentage along the way.

Backup Anton Khudobin has been no slouch himself in a limited role of six starts, posting a .925 save% and 2.37 GAA.

23-year old Landon Bow (undrafted and with 0 career NHL games) has just been called up to the NHL. Safe to say there is absolutely no book on him. Bow is in his third professional season and has a 6-3-1 record with a 2.81 GAA and .896 save% with the AHL Texas Stars this year.

Game over after 40 minutes?

Dallas is 10-0-1 this season when leading at the 2nd intermission, and 0-3-0 when trailing. When tied the Stars are 1-5-1, so they’ll definitely want to be in position to get the win going into the 3rd.

By comparison, Pittsburgh is 7-0-1 when taking a lead into the 2nd intermission and 0-7-1 when trailing after 40 minutes. That leaves a 0-1-2 record when tied at the second break.

Player stats at a glance

from hockeydb

—As seen in the graph above there are a handful of really good players (led of course by captain Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin) then a couple OK ones (Jason Spezza, Alex Radulov) and then...yuck not much else.

—Another game, another elite Scandinavian teen-aged defenseman. This time it’s Miro Heiskanen, 19, the #3 overall pick from 2017. The smooth skating youngster has 8 points in his first 21 career NHL games and is leading all rookies so far this season with an impressive 22:49 played per game.

Devin Shore just got placed on IR and won’t play tonight. That’s too bad for him, with 11 points in 18 games he looked like he was finally getting on track in the NHL.

John Klingberg is also out for tonight which is a shame because he’s a very fun player to watch and a legit Norris caliber defenseman who doesn’t get a ton of shine because of his market. That could be the Pens’ gain tonight to not see him.

—Also on IR are a bunch more defensemen in Marc Methot, Connor Carrick and Western PA native Stephen Johns who got a nice new contract but hasn’t played yet this season.

Lines (from their last game on Monday)

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alex Radulov

Gemel Smith - Jason Spezza - Roope Hintz

Blake Comeau - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick

Mattias Janmark - Jason Dickinson - Valeri Nichushkin

Esa Lindell / Julius Honka

Miro Heiskanen / Roman Polak

Gavin Bayreuther / Joel Hanley

—No clue what a Roope Hintz is.

—Val Nichushkin always seemed like a riddle wrapped in a mystery. Back from the KHL the skilled player has no goals and 4 assists in 16 games in his second go round in the NHL. The Stars are paying him $2.95 million (which makes him the 5th highest paid forward) and probably expected a little more out of the 23-year old former first round pick.

—A lot of those lower pair defensemen are unknowns, but needed due to all the injuries Dallas has as mentioned above (most notably Klingberg but also Johns, Methot and Carrick). That’s a big injury list already.

And now for the Pens

Infographic courtesy of the Penguins:

Lines (let’s hope!)

Tanner Pearson - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel

Jake Guentzel - - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Dominik Simon - Derick Brassard - Bryan Rust

Zach Aston-Reese - Riley Sheahan - Daniel Sprong

Jack Johnson / Kris Letang

Brian Dumouln / Chad Ruhwedel

Olli Maatta / Jamie Oleksiak

Evgeni Malkin didn’t practice yesterday with a “maintenance day” (Sullivan code for a minor ailment that shouldn’t keep the player out of the next game). The Pens have three games in four days so now is definitely not the time for Malkin to be hurt too.

Crosby isn’t officially in as of press time, but seems to be trending in that direction.

The Road Ahead

The Pens ship off to Boston for a 7:30pm game on Friday to meet the banged up Bruins. Then, in the first back-to-back of the season, Pittsburgh returns home to PPG Paints Arena on Saturday night for a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Next week marks another western road trip with games at Winnipeg (Tuesday) and Colorado (Wednesday). Given how the team played on their last Western road trip through Calgary-Edmonton-Vancouver, this may be a great thing.