Who: Chicago Blackhawks (5-7-3, 13 points, 6th place Central Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (9-6-1, 19 points, 4th place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, NBC Sports Chicago in the midwest, NHL Network if you’re in America but not in a local area
Opponent Track: Chicago’s been up and down, 2-1-1 in the month trading losses and wins each of the last four games. They did win 5-2 vs Vancouver on Thursday night in their last game.
Pens path ahead: The schedule does pick up in the latter half of November, but for now the Pens can enjoy the lull. Pittsburgh is headed back to NYC for games @NYR Tuesday and then more inactivity before playing @NJD on Friday night, then a quick turnaround to head back to the ‘Burgh for a showcase game next Saturday night at home against Toronto.
Season Series: The Pens don’t make their annual trip to Chicago until Wednesday March 25th this year.
Recent history: It’s not kind. Oh lord, it’s not kind. The Pens are 0-7-3 vs Chicago in the last 10, Pittsburgh hasn’t defeated the ‘Hawks since 3/30/2014 when Lee Stempniak scored the GWG to give you a sense of just how long ago that is in hockey terms. Since then, goals are 43-16 Chicago in the matchups. It’s just been a total bloodbath for the Pens.
SBN Team Counterpart: Check out our pals at Second City Hockey for the perspective from the other side
Tale of the Tape
(note: league ranks don’t include Friday games)
—Your Pittsburgh Penguins: top 5-10 in just about everything except....power play? What kind of a world is this? Luckily again though, the PK has been as hot as the power play has been cold.
—Chicago, yikes. Just a team without much direction or identity. It’s surprising that the offense hasn’t really been producing considering this isn’t a team without skill up front, yet they’ve been one of the worst at scoring goals and shooting the puck so far.
Player Stats at a Glance
—Robin Lehner is picking up right where he left off last season in his Vezina year.
—Olli Maatta has been, just OK so far. Four assists in 17:36 per game, where he’s basically a 5th defenseman on the team. He only has a 42.2 CF% and has been saddled with Brent Seabrook, which has been as disastrous as expected (41.9% CF%, 37.2% Scoring Chance%, 36.3% xGF%, just not very good).
Possible Lines (based on Thursday game)
Alex DeBrincat - Dylan Strome - Patrick Kane
Alex Nylander - Jonathan Toews - Brandon Saad
Drake Caggiula - David Kampf - Kirby Dach
Zack Smith - Ryan Carpenter - Andrew Shaw
Adam Boqvist / Duncan Keith
Calvin de Haan / Brent Seabrook
Olli Maatta / Erik Gustafsson
Expected scratches: Dominik Kubalik, Slater Koekkoek
Injured reserve: Connor Murphy
—The top-six forward group looks pretty good and then you get to the rest of the team and it’s woof city. Youngsters like Dach and Boqvist are high upside former first round picks, but also rookies. The rest of the team are replacement level types, and some very expensive pieces there too.
And now for the Pens..
That fudge unreal bud?
Infographic courtesy of the Penguins:
Potential Lines (Based on Thursday game)
Alex Galchenyuk - Sidney Crosby - Jake Guentzel
Jared McCann- Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Dominik Simon - 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 injury), Sam Lafferty (healthy)
Injured: Patric Hornqvist (lower body, IR)
—The talk of the town and big boost was finding the McCann-Malkin-Rust line that combined for all four goals the Pens against the Islanders.