Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (12-10-6; 30 points, 5th in Metropolitan Division) @ New York Islanders (14-11-3, 31 points, 3rd in the Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: On TV locally in Pittsburgh (AT&T Sportsnet) and in the New York area on MSG+, Sportsnet in Canada
Opponent Track: After gettin’ that ass beat Wednesday night by the Pens, the Isles bounced back with a 3-2 comeback win over the Detroit Red Wings.
Pens Refresh: The Pens had good process but a tough luck result dropping a 2-1 OT game to the Sens on the road on Saturday.
Season series: This will be the 4th and thankfully final game of the season between PIT-NYI.
12/6: Pens win 6-2
11/1: Isles win 3-2 (shootout)
10:30: Isles win 6-3
SBN Team Counterpart: Lighthouse Hockey
Tale of the tape
—Ahh one more for the Islanders; a team whose process stinks in terms of puck possession, but it surprisingly enough annoying to play against with top-10 metrics in both shooting and save percentage. Both of those have been falling steadily though, as there isn’t the total talent level to sustain such high numbers forever.
—Pretty cool that NYI is identical in Goals For and Against and rank 12th in offense per game and 20th on defense. Only 3 teams in the league this year are giving up less than 2.7 goals per game. As recently as 2015-16 there were 18 teams that ended up 2.7 GAA or better, which goes to show how through ~30 games 2018-19 has been wide-open and a lot of goals going in.
—Do the Pens feel like a top-10 Corsi team? After Saturday’s domination of Ottawa in that regard they now are. Quietly they’ve been edging up slowly all season in this regard.
Player stats at a glance
—We pretty much know what to expect by now from these teams. Tough luck on the schedule for Pittsburgh to run into Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner when they were .930ish goalies early in the season. Both are fading big time now.
Back to the Coliseum
In one of the biggest “character” buildings (nice way to say a decripit trash heap), the New York Islanders will play tonight from their old home of the Long Island Coliseum or whatever fancy name they’re calling it now. LHH explained a while back why this is:
The New York Islanders have reached an agreement to split “roughly half” their games at the refurbished Nassau Coliseum over the next three seasons, beginning in 2018-19, until their new arena at Belmont is completed.
Specifically, the number is about 60 games (54 regular season), according to Jim Baumbach of Newsday, who pressed for more details than were put on ceremonial display. Brian Compton of NHL.com put the number at 12 next season.
So here we are. Splitting at least a dozen games within the same season at two different “home” venues is totally unconventional. So it’s totally Islanders.
I mean, at least the jumbotron is centered over the middle of the rink at this place? The Coliseum is old and dumpy, but is reminiscent of the old barns like the Igloo, so it’s kind of nice in that regard.
Tonight will be the second game back in the Coliseum this season. They played their until 2015 when they moved into Brooklyn as the team was searching for a new home and more permanent roots that they haven’t yet settled into.
At least one player would prefer Brooklyn, though.
Kris Letang is officially banned from Borrelli’s. pic.twitter.com/IWJi7GrrfG— Frankie Borrelli (@FrankieBorrelli) December 9, 2018
Lines (from Saturday game)
Anthony Beauvillier - Mathew Barzal- Josh Bailey
Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Jordan Eberle
Ross Johnston - Valtteri Filppula - Leo Komarov
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy / Johnny Boychuk
Thomas Hickey / Ryan Pulock
Adam Pelech /Scott Mayfield
—Exciting youngster Josh Ho-Sang (2g+20a in 26 games for AHL Bridgeport) was recently called up for the first time this season. He’s played 21 and 22 NHL games in the last two seasons, so he’s no stranger to the game at the highest level. But it remains unclear at this time if Ho-Sang will get into the lineup or is just depth and an extra body after ex-Penguin Tom Kuhnhackl was hurt.
And now for the Pens
Infographic courtesy of the Penguins:
Lines (based off Monday morning game skate)
Jake Guentzel - - Sidney Crosby - Phil Kessel
Tanner Pearson - Evgeni Malkin - Riley Sheahan
Zach Aston-Reese - Derick Brassard -Bryan Rust
Garrett Wilson - Derek Grant - Jean-Sebastien Dea
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Olli Maatta / Jamie Oleksiak
Marcus Pettersson / Jack Johnson
—It doesn’t seem like Patric Hornqvist (upper body, mentioned not to be a concussion) is too far from playing, so perhaps he’ll be able to play.
—With Hornqvist soon to be back and Matt Cullen skating again and probably somewhat close, it will be interesting to see which players get pushed out. Can Dea find a way to stick? If he keeps playing well (and since he has center capability) perhaps he can out-last Wilson and Grant? Doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibilities at all.
The dad’s trip starts tonight. I think it’s just hilarious they were like “uhhh, let’s start it in New York and go to Chicago...no need to come to Ottawa, guys!”
I think the Pens are like 10-5 all time on the fathers/mentors trips over the years, which considering a normal road record is really good. Has to be pretty special for the players to be able to spend some time with their first biggest fan and show them how life on the road in the National is.
The Road Ahead
The Pens’ pre-Christmas December is pretty brutal, as we’re just beginning a stretch where the team doesn’t get as much as a two day break between games from 12/4-12/22. They’re in Chicago on Wednesday night to play the slumping Blackhawks, then return home to PPG for a home-and-home Friday and Saturday night against the Bruins and Kings, respectively.