When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh viewing area, Fox Sports Detroit
Opponent Track: The Red Wings just had a four day break. They needed it, having lost their last 10 games overall (the last eight coming in regulation). Detroit’s last win was all the way back on November 12th. In the last two weeks they’ve lost the previous six games they’ve played by a combined score of 28-5. This is a team in absolute atrocious form and basically getting run over as of late.
Pens path ahead: A pretty favorable one, the Pens get two days off after tonight and have three home games next week, none against daunting teams. Montreal (Tuesday), Columbus (Thursday) and Los Angeles (next Saturday) all head into Pittsburgh next week. None of these teams are currently in playoff position, and other than MTL they’re all basically bottom feeders.
Season Series: Today is the first of three PIT/DET games this season. The Pens go back to Detroit for a second and final time on January 17th. The Red Wings will make their only trip to Pittsburgh this season on February 16th to conclude the series.
Recent History: It’s only been OK. The Pens were 2-1-0 vs DET last year, but overall in the past three seasons are just 4-5-0 vs the Red Wings, who haven’t made the playoffs in any of those seasons.
SBN Team Counterpart: Hit up our friends at Winging it in Motown for all the Red Wing stories. They’re fun in their misery as they deal with another tough season but still find ways to engage their fanbase.
Tale of the Tape
(note: does not count yesterday’s games)
—There’s just no way around it, the Red Wings are a terrible, terrible team this year. Steve Yzerman probably knew that and was fine with letting them bottom out and restock with new talent as the old, bad contracts got one year closer to expiring, but this could be a one of the worst teams in NHL modern-day history. Just pick a category above and they’re probably very, very bad at it, including being dead last in scoring goals and dead last in allowing goals.
Player Stats at a Glance
—A few individual bright spots are out there. Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi are all definitely young enough to be part of the solution. Robby Fabbri has found a new lease on his professional life coming over earlier in the season in a trade with St. Louis, scoring 10 points in 13 games with Detroit.
—Other than that, it’s a lot of yuck. This team is playing out the stretch already and the leaders would probably basically just forfeit and fast forward to the summer if they could. Yzerman can, should and will start selling off any veteran pieces possible here soon.
Possible Lines (based on Friday practice)
Tyler Bertuzzi - Dylan Larkin - Robby Fabbri
Andreas Athanasiou - Valtteri Filppula - Luke Glendening
Darren Helm - Frans Nielsen - Filip Zadina
Brendan Perlini - Christoffer Ehn - Adam Erne
Patrik Nemeth / Filip Hronek
Dennis Cholowski / Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson / Madison Bowey
Expected scratches: Alex Biega, Dylan McIlrath
Injured reserve: Trevor Daley, Danny Dekeyser, Jimmy Howard, Anthony Mantha, Justin Abdelkader
—That 4th line has a combined 59 man games played this season, 0 goals, 1 assist. I mean good gracious.
—Injuries have struck hard, Howard is on IR so the two goalies with the club currently are Jonathan Bernier and newly traded Eric Comrie. It would be interesting to see if Comrie gets his first taste of game action with his new team tonight. I mean, 10 straight losses, what more do they have to lose?
And now for the Pens..
Potential Lines (based on Friday game)
Jake Guentzel - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Alex Galchenyuk - Jared McCann - Stefan Noesen
Dominik Kahun - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Zach Aston-Reese- Sam Lafferty - Dominik Simon
John Marino / Kris Letang
Jack Johnson /Justin Schultz
Marcus Pettersson/ Chad Ruhwedel
Expected scratches: Juuso Riikola (healthy), Joseph Blandisi (healthy)
Injured Reserve: Sidney Crosby (core muscle surgery), Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Patric Hornqvist (lower body injury), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery)