When: 7:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, MSG, ESPN+
Opponent Track: The Rangers were 0-4-1 until Saturday night, where surprisingly enough, they won 2-1 in overtime against playoff-bound Toronto. Shots in that game were 45-28 in favor of the Maple Leafs for what it’s worth, yet it was NYR who skated out with the win.
Pens Refresh: Perhaps another surprise, given no Malkin, is that the four-game road trip concluding tonight for Pittsburgh has already been a success at 2-0-1, including a 3-2 win on Saturday night in Dallas.
Season Series: These two teams last saw each other February 17 in an exciting 6-5 win for the Pens. Pittsburgh won the first matchup of the season more emphatically by a 7-2 score on January 2. After tonight, the two teams will meet in Game 82 on April 6.
SBN Team Counterpart: Blueshirt Banter
Tale of the Tape
—It’s been a while (if ever) since we’ve seen a team that tracks below average in literally every category we track on the Tale of the Tape, so congrats Rangers, 15th ranked shooting percentage is the only thing saving you from being terrible at everything!
—NYR gets killed on shot-based stats; they don’t shoot a lot and they don’t score a lot of goals. They also allow a ton of shots against and give up a ton of goals. Not a great formula, obviously.
—This could be a good game for the Pens to get some confidence, their shooting percentage has been in free-fall for the last month or so. This type of game could be a great slump-buster for those guys who haven’t scored an even-strength goal in a while (Kessel, Hornqvist, etc).
Player Stats at a Glance
—Since 2006-07, Henrik Lundqvist failed to post 60-plus games only twice in non-lockout years (2014-15, 2016-17 both due to injuries). He won’t get there this season either, but based mainly on age, performance (this is Lundqvist’s worst career-year in GAA and save percentage) and team situation for being out of the picture. But the 23-year-old Alexandar Georgiev appears to be the future and is playing pretty well — including stopping 44/45 last game out in the win.
—The Rangers purge this trade deadline included sending Kevin Hayes, Adam McQuaid, and Mats Zuccarello out for futures. Add those three to former linchpins traded last year in Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, J.T Miller, and Michael Grabner and the only current players they have to show for the dump is Vladislav Namestnikov, Brett Howden, and Brendan Lemieux back. The main focus has been to load up on draft picks for their rebuild. NYR has five picks in the first two rounds in 2019, and made four high picks last year. No doubt a major step back in shuffling out NHL caliber vets for the future and the success or failure of this reboot will hinge on the draft/development process in the years to come.
Mika Zibanejad - Ryan Strome
Vladislav Namestnikov - Brett Howden - Pavel Buchnevich
Jimmy Vesey - Lias Andersson - Brendan Lemieux
Connor Brickley - Boo Nieves - Vinni Lettieri
Marc Staal / Anthony DeAngelo
Brady Skjei / Neal Pionk
Brendan Smith / Kevin Shattenkirk
Update: Chris Kreider will be out with a bad hamstring
Projected scratches: Jesper Fast, John Gilmour, Frederik Claesson
Injuries: Libor Hajek, Filip Chytil
Buchnevich — Over the last eight games, Buchnevich has six points (five goals, one assist) including a goal last game against Toronto.
Strome — Five points (four goals, one assist) in the last seven games, including goals in the last two games, one of which was the OT game-winning goal vs. Toronto.
DeAngelo — Since the All-Star break, DeAngelo has no goals but a team-high 15 assists, while playing 19:47 per game. The 23-year-old former first round pick from 2014 has always been considered a high-ceiling and talented player, but is already on organization number three in his career and was trying to find a niche.
Georgiev — He only has one win in his last five games, but his 1-2-2 record isn’t really because of him. He’s boasting a save percentage of .934 percent over this stretch with a very respectable 2.34 GAA.
Kreider — In the last 11 games, Kreider has no goals and only two assists.
Vesey — No points in his last 11 games, a complimentary piece like Vesey doesn’t have a lot to compliment now that players like Hayes and Zuccarello are traded away.
Staal — Generating points isn’t his game, and good thing because since January 19 (26 games) Marc has no goals and two assists. He’s also been on the ice for a team-high 60 5 on 5 goals against since that date, a rate of 3.1 goals/60 for the other team. His hefty contract ($5.7 million cap hit for two more seasons after this) is surely the only thing keeping him in the league right now, as he’s one of the league’s worst defensemen by this point.
And now for the Penguins...
Check the game notes, eh bud?
Jake Guentzel- Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jared McCann - Teddy Blueger - Phil Kessel
Dominik Simon - Nick Bjugstad - Patric Hornqvist
Adam Johnson - Matt Cullen- Garrett Wilson
Brian Dumoulin / Zach Trotman
Jack Johnson / Justin Schultz
Marcus Pettersson / Erik Gudbranson
Expected scratches: Chad Ruhwedel (upper), Zach Aston-Reese (hip), Evgeni Malkin (rib)
Injured Reserve: Olli Maatta (upper body)
UPDATE: Uh oh, Kris Letang is out again with an upper-body injury
#Pens coach Sullivan said Letang has an upper-body injury and will not play tonight. His status is day-to-day. -MC— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) March 25, 2019
—The Pens’ March schedule has been really atrocious; this marks the 14th game of the month, and the 12th game since March 5. Tonight is also the last leg of a four-game road trip that covered a bit of ground geographically, as the team hopped from Pittsburgh to Carolina to Dallas to Manhattan, all without the benefit of much rest.
—So, luckily, there’s three days off after this, which will certainly be a welcome respite to rest up a bit and prepare for the final five games of the regular season, four of which will be from the friendly confines of the PPG Paints Arena, with only one quick road jaunt over to Detroit.