When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, MSG+ in the NYC area
Opponent Track: If you thought Boston was a hot opponent, say hello to an even hotter one! NYI comes into tonight winners of 10-straight, last losing in regulation back on October 11th. Not to take a lot away from them, but it really hasn’t been a murderer’s row of a schedule of late OTT, BUF, TB, PHI, AZ, OTT, CBJ, WPG, STL, FLA is the streak and none of them are exactly lighting the world on fire and/or very strong teams. But if 10-game win streaks were easy, more teams would have ‘em, so that definitely has to be respected this is a confident bunch on a roll right now.
Pens path ahead: The Pens go back home and face Chicago on Saturday night. They then have to fly right back to the NYC area next week for games against NYR (Tuesday) and NJD next Friday Nov 15th. Maybe Jon Toews was onto something with his more player-and-environment friendly scheduling...
Season Series: We’ll see a lot of the Islanders here soon. They visit PPG for the first time on Tuesday November 19 before the Pens fly BACK to NYC two weeks from now (third trip to NY in three weeks) to play on November 21st to complete a home-and-home series. Then PIT/NYI doesn’t meet again until Sunday March 15th, because the schedule is real dumb.
Recent history: The Penguins went 2-1-1 vs NYI in the 2018-19 season, before the playoffs hit and the Islanders swept through a very bad week for the Pens who never found a way to get it together. Gross. Pens’ fans don’t have to have too many unpleasant memories compared to the rest of the league in the last 15ish years, but the disappointment of the 2019 playoff no-show has to be up there.
SBN Team Counterpart: Check out our pals at Lighthouse Hockey for the perspective from the other side
Tale of the Tape
—The Islanders refuse to regress quietly into the night. In many ways, this is a lot like last year: a team heavily outshot and it doesn’t even matter because they get other-worldy goaltending performances to bail out playing in their own end most the night and above average special teams to help tip the balances of games.
—The Pens are the current Corsi Cup champs! And passing the eye test too!
Player Stats at a Glance
—Barzal only scored 18 goals last year in a sophomore campaign (down from 22 as a rookie) and he’s recovered to b on a 35-goal pace this season, with the admission it is early yet.
—Welcome to the “Barry Trotz school for helping goaltenders” Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov’s save percentage was .911% in the three seasons previous and is up markedly .018% in his early debut on Long Island. And, of course, that doesn’t even lead the team with battery mater Thomas Greiss having a .937 save%. Get this: Greiss had a .905% with NYI from 2016-2018 in the two seasons prior to Trotz, since Trotz has taken over it’s .928%.
Possible Lines (based on Tuesday game)
Anders Lee - Mat Barzal - Josh Bailey
Anthony Beauvillier - Brock Nelson - Derick Brassard
Michael Dal Colle - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Ross Johnston - Cole Bardreau - Oliver Wahlstrom
Adam Pelech / Ryan Pulock
Noah Dobson / Johnny Boychuk
Devon Toews / Scott Mayfield
Expected scratches: Nick Leddy
Injured reserve: Jordan Eberle, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, Tom Kuhnhackl
—NYI is dealing with some injuries too that’s pushing up a fairly weak bottom-six on paper in terms of skill, but one of course we know will work work hard to stay on the right side of the puck, pressure where they can and generally be annoying.
—It’ll be interesting to see if Crosby/Guentzel can do any more damage and if they draw the Pelech/Pulock pair again with NY having home ice edge to set matchups. Those two did a great job of frustrating the Pens’ top line in the spring.
And now for the Pens..
That fudge unreal bud?
Infographic courtesy of the Penguins:
Potential Lines (Based on Thursday morning skate)
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon
Alex Galchenyuk - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Jared McCann - Nick Bjugstad - Dominik Kahun
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Brian Dumoulin/ John Marino
Marcus Pettersson / Justin Schultz
Jack Johnson / Juuso Riikola
Expected scratches: Chad Ruhwedel (healthy), Kris Letang (lower body), Sam Lafferty (healthy)
Injured: Patric Hornqvist (lower body, IR)
—We’ll wait on official word for Letang, but he may miss his first game of the year tonight after getting injured on Tuesday.
Letang out for tonight, possibly/probably longer, Riikola looks to slot into the game lineup.