Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (14-9-4, 32 points, 5th place Metropolitan Division) @ St. Louis Blues (18-5-6, 42 points, 1st place Central Division)
When: 8:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: National game on NBCSN
Opponent Track: After whipping the Pens 5-2 on Saturday night, the Blues kept the good times rolling by shutting out rival Chicago 4-0 on Monday. STL is on a four game winning streak and their 42 points are the most in the West.
Pens path ahead: The Pens got a few days of rest this week since losing the aforementioned 5-2 game in St. Louis on Saturday, but the schedule heats up with today starting a three-game-in-four-day jaunt for Pittsburgh. They’ll stay at home to host Arizona on Friday then make the quick trip to Detroit for a game against the league’s worst on Saturday evening.
Season Series: This wraps up the regular season schedule between the Pens and Blues.
SBN Team Counterpart: Hit up our friends at St. Louis Game Time for all the Blues news and notes you could ever want.
Tale of the Tape
—It was a tough weekend for the Pens. Before the STL-CBJ losses, Pittsburgh was 6th in the league in goals allowed/game at 2.72. After giving up 9 goals in the two games, that’s ballooned to 13th. 5v5 save% cratered too, being as the team only gave up 56 total shots (28 per game) but only got 47 combined saves from Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry over the weekend.
—In a possibly/probably related story, the Pens’ PK is tanking right now too. What once was so recently a 6th ranked 84.4% group just two games ago has also now slid to the middle of the pack after allowing three PPG against in the last two games.
—Which makes it a bad time to see the Blues who are strong (power play) where the Pens have been weak.
Player Stats at a Glance
—What a 2019 it’s been for the 13 year pro in David Perron. After bouncing around quite a bit over a 5ish year stretch from 2013-18 (STL -> EDM -> PIT -> ANA -> back to STL -> claimed in expansion to Vegas -> back again to STL) Perron finally won the elusive Stanley Cup this year and has been a great player back with his third stint with the Blues.
—After getting burned by Sam Lafferty last game, Derrick Pouliot was sent back to the AHL. There were other factors (Carl Gunnarsson had the flu last week, Robert Bortuzzo was suspended) but the lasting memory for Pouliot in the NHL once again looks to be getting burnt on a defensive play against.
—Bortuzzo played 11:22 in his return against Chicago from the 4-game suspension.
Possible Lines (based on Monday game)
Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Nathan Walker
Zach Sanford - Ryan O’Reilly - David Perron
Ivan Barbashev - Tyler Bozak - Robert Thomas
Mackenzie MacEachern - Jacob de la Rose - Troy Brouwer
Colton Parayko - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Justin Faulk
Vince Dunn - Robert Bortuzzo
Expected scratches: Carl Gunnarsson, Austin Poganski
Injured reserve: Alex Steen, Oskar Sundqvist, Samuel Blais, Vladimir Tarasenko
—Jake Allen shutout the Blackhawks on Monday, but Jordan Binnington is the No. 1 and getting the lion’s share of the starts and presumably will play tonight again against the Pens team he did well against on Saturday.
And now for the Pens..
Infographic courtesy of the team:
Potential Lines (based on Friday game)
Jake Guentzel - Evgeni Malkin - Dominik Simon
Alex Galchenyuk - Jared McCann - Stefan Noesen
Dominik Kahun - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Zach Aston-Reese- Joseph Blandisi - Sam Lafferty
Jack Johnson / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson/ John Marino
Juuso Riikola / Chad Ruhwedel
Expected scratches: Zach Trotman (healthy)
Injured: Sidney Crosby (hernia surgery, IR), Nick Bjugstad (lower body injury, IR), Justin Schultz (lower body injury), Patric Hornqvist (lower body injury), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Bryan Rust (lower body injury)
—The beat-up Pens cobble together this lineup. Blandisi was waived (and cleared) but is still practicing with the team. They’ll need him with the lineup until at least Rust (skating on his own and officially day-to-day) is able to return.
—Stefan Noesen jumps up from the AHL to a featured role on a good line and playing with the No. 1 power play group in practice yesterday. This is a great opportunity for him, but truly a dark timeline for the team of Crosby-Malkin-Guentzel-Letang-Hornqvist, etc to have Stefan Noesen, top power play guy.
—Great chance for Galchenyuk too, who pretty quietly is getting a bigger chance than the past few weeks due to the recent injuries to Rust and Hornqvist on the wing. With the latter’s injury the dreaded “longer term” this may be the proverbial now or never for Galchenyuk to put it in gear and prove to be a useful player for the Pens or seal his fate as a guy getting worked out of the shuffle pretty quickly if he continues to not offer much.
—That defense....Well, let’s just say the less said the better. In better news, Schultz is practicing with the team again and while he won’t play tonight, he should be back sooner than later which will be very welcome news. The replacement level triumvirate of RIikola, Ruhwedel and Trotman have all been struggling mightily and as a result usually trading games between the press box and the ice, if needed due to injury. Unfortunately two of them will be needed to play each game until Schultz is back.