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Pittsburgh Penguins @ Detroit Red Wings 4/2/2019: lines, preview, how to watch

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The last road game of the regular season.

NHL: Preseason-Pittsburgh Penguins at Detroit Red Wings Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (43-25-11; 97 points, third place in the Metropolitan Division) @ Detroit Red Wings (31-38-10; 72 points, sixth place in the Atlantic Division)

When: 7:30 p.m. Eastern

How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, Fox Sports Detroit

Streaming: Also being told NHL.tv is free for the rest of the regular season.

Opponent Track: The Red Wings may be down and out this season, but they haven’t given up — they’re on a five-game winning streak. Detroit knocked off Boston 6-3 on Sunday, with Anthony Mantha notching a hat trick and an impressive five-point night. In addition to Boston, Detroit has also beaten future playoff teams like San Jose and Vegas in this winning streak, so the Pens can’t just think showing up is going to mean a team that’s rolled over and died.

Pens Refresh: Huge 3-1 win against Carolina on Sunday in a game with a ton of playoff seeding implications. The team was off yesterday on a travel day.

Season Series: There’s only been one PIT/DET game all season to this point, believe it or not. Pittsburgh took a 5-2 win back on December 27. The teams will meet again on Thursday back in the ‘Burgh to complete a three-game season series.

SBN Team Counterpart: Winging it in Motown

Tale of the Tape

—Everyone pretty much knew going in this was more or less a throwaway season for Detroit as they try to rebuild and shuffle out older players and figure out which new ones might be part of the future... And, well, there haven’t been any surprises. The Red Wings aren’t a very good 5-on-5 team — losing the shot battles by far — and their combined special team play is also among the very worst in the league. Add it all up, and you have a non-factor.

—But, ironically, the Red Wings are not terrible shooters and don’t get bad goaltending. It’s just that they aren’t able to shoot enough pucks, and they give up way too many shots on their net, which gives an end result of not enough goals for and a high number of goals against.

Matt Murray has finally pushed the Pens to above a 93 percent 5-on-5 save rate! The Penguins give up as many shots as Detroit, but the difference is Murray (and backup Casey DeSmith) has given excellent goaltending, so they’re middle-of-the-pack in GAA. Detroit only gets average goaltending, so their heavy burden of shots puts them as among worst-in-league in GAA.

—Offensively, there aren’t parallels. The Pens shoot better and a lot more than Detroit, so accordingly, they light up the scoreboard and Detroit does not.

Player Stats at a Glance

via hockey db:

Slowly, the new core is starting to emerge. Dylan Larkin is a star caliber player, Andreas Anthanasiou just hit the 30 goal mark for the first time in his career, and Mantha seems to be putting things together late in the season too. Add in for next year perhaps 2018 sixth overall pick Filip Zadina (three points in a nine game NHL audition this year and a fairly strong 33 points in 53 AHL games as a 19-year-old) and they’re starting to get places.

—If you haven’t heard of Taro Hirose, you’re not alone. But the 22-year-old is making a name for himself. He recently turned pro (undrafted player out of Michigan State) and has seven points in his first career nine NHL games. Hirose scored his first career goal last game against the Bruins.

Possible Lines

Tyler Bertuzzi - Dylan Larkin - Anthony Mantha

Taro Hirose - Andreas Athanasiou - Darren Helm

Ryan Kuffner - Christoffer Ehn - Martin Frk

Matt Puempel - Dominic Turgeon -Michael Rasmussen/ Jacob de la Rosa

Niklas Kronwall - Filip Hronek

Danny DeKeyser - Madison Bowey

Jake Chelios - Dylan McIlrath

Luke Witkowski -Joe Hicketts

(lots of defensemen, who knows what’s going on with all the injuries)

Injuries: Danny DeKeyser ,Mike Green, Trevor Daley Jonathan Bernier, Frans Nielson, Tomas Vanek, Luke Glendening, and Jonathan Ericsson

—I’m not really sure if the vets on that list are injured or “injured,” but just about every older player on the team is out of the lineup for Detroit as they get to the end of the 2018-19 season. Certainly there is no motivation (and should be none) to play through bumps and bruises and minor enough injuries that NHL players probably push through after 80 games if they’re in the playoff hunt.

—And this doesn’t even count the long-term injured reserve players of Johan Franzen (who still is on the cap next year!) and Henrik Zetterberg (two more years) that are all but officially retired and still collecting that sweet, sweet check.

—Fitting to see a Chelios in the Detroit lineup, isn’t it? The 28-year-old son of Chris has worked extremely hard, this is his fifth full professional season and he has only recently been called up, appearing in two career NHL games. He’s only up due to the glut of defensive injuries and probably doesn’t have too much of a future at this level, but a testament to him to be able to play out the stretch in a place where his father did so much.

And now for the Penguins...

Check the game notes, eh bud?

Possible Lines

Jake Guentzel- Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Jared McCann - Teddy Blueger - Phil Kessel

Dominik Simon - Nick Bjugstad - Patric Hornqvist

Adam Johnson - Matt Cullen- Garrett Wilson

Olli Maatta / Brian Dumoulin

Jack Johnson / Justin Schultz

Marcus Pettersson / Erik Gudbranson

Expected scratches: Zach Trotman (healthy), Kris Letang (upper-boy injury), Chad Ruhwedel (upper-body injury), Zach Aston-Reese (hip), Evgeni Malkin (rib)

Good guy Kris Letang, let’s go (thumbs up)

—The Penguins can clinch a playoff berth with a win today. That would be fun! They can also backdoor their way in if Montreal fails to win against Tampa, but that would be less fun. Either way, Pittsburgh is closing in on making it official.

Playoff hockey is almost here.