When: 10:00 p.m. eastern.
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, Fox Sports West, ESPN+
Opponent Track: This is game five of a home-stand for the Ducks, and they’re 1-0-1 in the last two including a 4-3 OT win the last time out on Tuesday night against Edmonton. So, yeah, well rested team at home that isn’t playing THAT bad lately, despite a bad record, this is a sneaky “tougher than it seems on the surface” type of game for the Pens, much like the LA game.
Pens path ahead: The Pens have to go up to San Jose tomorrow for a b-2-b (and the Sharks do NOT play today), so yikes, a sneaky tough road trip keeps going. Next week it’s back to Pittsburgh for a home game against Ottawa next Tuesday.
Season Series: Anaheim visited Pittsburgh way back on October 10th this season. It was a 2-1 Pens win. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist on a Jake Guentzel goal. Matt Murray stopped 31/32 shots for the win.
SBN Team Counterpart: Our friends at Anaheim Calling will have you covered from the Ducks perspective
Tale of the tape
—Bad season for Anaheim, but don’t let the full season stats fool you, they’ve been decent in the last month+ since the All-star break scoring 2.80 goals/game in the last 15 games they’ve played. By contrast, the Pens only have 2.83 goals/game in the same span. (Granted, the Ducks are also giving up 3.33 goals against/game in this stretch, so it’s not like they’re playing awesome, but they’re more dangerous now then in earlier parts of the year).
—The Pens’ slump has really hurt their offensive numbers that continue to slide. Getting skill back from the injury list and getting the new forwards comfortable with the team ought to help, but it’s tough to watch the slide.
Player Stats at a Glance
—One thing that stands out is, unlike say LA, Anaheim added a lot of NHL caliber assets with their deadline trading moves. Sonny Milano scored two goals (including the OT GWG) in his Duck debut. Danton Heinen added an assist. Christian Djoos is back in the NHL. There’s five new players to the team total, including old friend Andrew Agozzino, whom Anaheim grabbed off waivers. So this is basically a fresh team with new energy and lots of inidividuals with a lot to prove going down the stretch.
Possible Lines (based on projection)
Sonny Milano - Ryan Getzlaf - Rickard Rakell
Danton Heinen - Adam Henrique - Kiefer Sherwood
Max Jones - Sam Steel - Jakob Silfverberg
Nicolas Deslauriers - Andrew Agozzino - Carter Rowney
Hampus Lindholm / Josh Manson
Jacob Larsson / Michael Del Zotto
Christian Djoos / Matt Irwin
Expected starting goalie: John Gibson
Expected Scratches: David Backes, Brendan Guhle, Cam Fowler
Injured Reserve: Ryan Kesler, Erik Gudbranson, Patrick Eaves
—By a count, seven of the listed names have only played a handful of games with Anaheim so far. This is a team in the midst of lots of changes!
—We’ll have to see how it goes for Lindholm, who left last game early with an injury.
And now for the Pens..
Potential Lines (based on Thursday practice)
Jason Zucker - Sidney Crosby - Conor Sheary
Bryan Rust- Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist
Patrick Marleau - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Dominik Simon- Jared McCann -Evan Rodrigues
Jack Johnson/ Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Justin Schultz
Juuso Riikola / Chad Ruhwedel
Possible starting goalie: Matt Murray
Expected scratches: Zach Aston-Reese (lower body injury), Zach Trotman (healthy), Sam Lafferty (healthy)
Injured Reserve: Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Jake Guentzel (shoulder), John Marino (cheek surgery)
—More good news at Pens’ practice as Dumoulin and Marino get action in normal, contact jerseys, as did McCann. And Bjugstad finally got back on the ice with his teammates in a non-contact involvement.