Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (14-7-4, 32 points, 3rd place Metropolitan Division) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (10-10-4, 24 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, Fox Sports Ohio, ESPN+
Opponent Track: The Jackets have been in an every-other-day game routine since November 19th. They’ve basically traded wins an losses to go 3-2-0 in this stretch, 1-2 in the last three including a 3-2 home loss on Wednesday to the Flyers (related: it feels like whoever the Pens play have last played the Flyers like 5 times in a row).
Pens path ahead: Pittsburgh flies out quickly for a game tomorrow night in St. Louis. Then they get three days off and see that same Blues team in PA next on Wednesday and play Arizona at home on next Friday
Season Series: This is the second PIT/CBJ matchup of the season, the Pens won 7-2 way back on October 5th (the second game of the season). Malkin got hurt in the game, Sidney Crosby got in a fight with Pierre-Luc Dubois and also did this:
Beautiful pass.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 6, 2019
Beautiful hockey. pic.twitter.com/r957Qp9R5i
The teams will see each other fairly soon when the Jackets come to Pittsburgh on Thursday December 12th. After that the reg season finale isn’t until the Pens to to Columbus on March 12th.
Recent history: The Pens are 4-1-0 vs CBJ dating back to the start of the 2018-19 season. They’re also 10-1-1 since Feb. 2017 in the regular season of this matchup
SBN Team Counterpart: Hit up our friends at Jackets Cannon for all the ‘Lumbus news and notes you could ever want.
Tale of the Tape
—It didn’t take much of a prognosticator to see that a team losing Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel off last year’s roster and replaced externally with Gustav Nyquist would have a tough time scoring goals. And that’s what has played out so far in 2019-20 for CBJ. They have been terrible shooting the puck and are among the bottom of the league in generating goals, as probably to have been expected.
—The Pens’ power play has been slightly trending up, which is nice since the PK percentage has been slightly trending down over the past few games.
—The shooting percentage for Pittsburgh too feasted after an eight goal game against Vancouver and is about as high as it’s been all season.
Player Stats at a Glance
—The stat sheet illustrates the chart above, with goals being hard to come by for Columbus. Pierre-Luc Dubois is off to a fine season but is the only double-digit scorer on the team. Next up are Oliver Bjorkstrand, Boone Jenner and defenseman Zach Werenski with 6 goals.
—Cam Atkinson with only 4 goals (a pace for 14) is a real surprise, given he scored 41 goals last season.
—Goaltending post-Bobrovsky has also been pretty rough. Joonas Korpisalo now in 109 career NHL games has a .906 save%. which isn’t going to get it done. Rookie Elvis Merzlikins (who you might remember as being lit up for all 7 goals the Pens’ scored in the first game, which was Merzlikins’ NHL debut) hasn’t offered up much more.
Possible Lines (based on Jackets Cannon projection)
Gustav Nyquist - Boone Jenner - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Alexandre Texier - Nick Foligno - Cam Atkinson
Eric Robinson - Alexander Wennberg - Josh Anderson
Sonny Milano - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Emil Bemstrom
Zach Werenski / Seth Jones
Ryan Murray / David Savard
Vladislav Gavrikov / Dean Kukan
Expected scratches: Riley Nash, Scott Harrington
Injured reserve: Brandon Dubinsky, Markus Nutivaara,
—No clue what Torts is doing with his centers there. Dubois as a “4th” center probably isn’t going to hold, he’ll still play a lot of minutes but why a guy like Foligno is centering skill players and Dubois is centering young/energy wingers makes little sense.
—Bjorkstand is the hottest Jacket at the moment, currently riding a five game point streak (2G+6A).
And now for the Pens..
Potential Lines (based on Friday morning skate)
Jake Guentzel - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Alex Galchenyuk - Jared McCann-Brandon Tanev
Dominik Kahun -Sam Lafferty - Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Dominik Simon
Brian Dumoulin/ Kris Letang
Jack Johnson / John Marino
Marcus Pettersson / Zach Trotman
Expected scratches: Juuso Riikola (healthy), Chad Ruhwedel (healthy)
Injured: Sidney Crosby (hernia surgery, IR), , Nick Bjugstad (lower body injury, IR), Justin Schultz (lower body injury)
Feasting on the Jackets
Several Penguins do really well against CBJ. To wit, per Pens PR:
- Patric Hornqvist’s 15 career goals against the Blue Jackets are tied for the most he’s scored against any one team (Colorado, 15).
- Jared McCann has six points (4G+2A) in four games against the Blue Jackets since joining the Penguins. He tied a career high with three points (2G-1A) against them on October 5, 2019.
- No Penguin has been more dominant against the Columbus Blue Jackets over the last three-plus seasons than Jake Guentzel. In 12 career regular season games, he has 13 points (7G+6A). If you include his postseason stats against them, Guentzel has 12 goals and 19 points in 17 games.
John Marino got on the board again Wednesday night with two assists, extending his point streak to six games (1G-6A). His six-game point streak is the longest by any rookie this season.
Marino is just the fourth rookie defenseman in Penguins history to record a point streak of six-plus games. The others include Randy Boyd (7GP, 1/15-1/29/1983), Jack Lynch (6GP, 11/15-11/26/1972) and Zarley Zalapski (6GP, 3/22-4/2/1989).
Marino’s 11 points (2G-9A) on the year rank fourth among all rookie defensemen, while his plus-9 this season is tied for first among all NHL rookies.