Who: Vancouver Canucks (6-11-2, 14 points, 7th place Pacific division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (8-6-4, 20 points, 5th place Metropolitan division)
When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet locally in Pittsburgh, Sportsnet for the away broadcast, NHL Network if in America but not in the Western PA viewing area
Opponent Track: There’s a lot of consternation in Vancouver about the state of the pro hockey team with pressure mounting last week and embattled GM Jim Benning having a tense press conference last week with the media. The Canucks are just 1-5-1 in the last seven games and have been out-scored 29-13 in this stretch as they’ve slumped down towards the bottom of the Western Conference. Their last game was on Sunday, and another new low, getting shutout 1-0 in Chicago to a team that isn’t exactly hitting on all cylinders either.
Pens path ahead: The next game is Friday, where Pittsburgh will play in just the fourth ever game from UBS Arena, the new home to the Islanders. Following that it’s back to Canadian teams: Pittsburgh will return home quickly to host Montreal on Saturday before departing next week on their Western Canada road trip that will see them play in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver through December 4th.
Season Series: Pittsburgh is scheduled to make their annual trip to Vancouver on the above mentioned Western Canada swing, on Saturday December 4th. (Which sounds like a long time away but is next Saturday in like nine days).
Random fact: The Pens’ typically annual Thanksgiving Eve home game has been a staple in franchise history. Last year at this time the season had not started, but in 2019 these same two teams met the day before Thanksgiving in an exciting 8-6 Pittsburgh win that saw Evgeni Malkin record five points (2G+3A). Bryan Rust (1G+3A) and Jake Guentzel (2G+2A) also each had four points. These teams also played in Pittsburgh on Thanksgving Eve 2017, with Vancouver taking a 5-2 win. The Pens won by identical 4-3 (OT) scores in 2014 and 2015 at home the day before Turkey day against Toronto and St. Louis, respectively. In 2013 it was a 6-5 shootout win for the Pens against Toronto the night before Thanksgiving.
Random fact II: Rounding out the home T-giving Eve game theme, the Pens overall are 6-1-1 on this day in the Crosby era, with typically exciting and high-scoring games along the way as a nice kick off for families getting together this time of year.
SBN Team Counterpart: Check out Nucks Misconduct for all the Canucks news you out there.
—While the rest of the team isn’t exactly doing great as of late, the struggles have not extended to J.T. Miller. He’s at a point/game this season, and that includes the last 10 games with 6G+4A.
—The younger players have been doing well too, Nils Hoglander has 5G+1A in the last 10, and defender Quinn Hughes has 0G+8A in this stretch.
—After scoring 153 points in his first three seasons (165 games) and getting a big contract, Elias Pettersson has just kinda been meh so far this season with only three goals on the year. Over the last seven games that VAN has really struggled, Pettersson has only 1G+1A. He’s obviously still an awesome player and very talented, but there’s no doubt this is one of the biggest droughts of his young career so far.
—Similarly, Brock Boeser only has 0G+2A in the last seven games for Vancouver. Bo Horvat has a big fat 0G+0A in the last seven. These are players who just can’t disappear from the scoresheet for long stretches or the team will struggle mightily, which is pretty much what has happened.
Monday Game Lines
Tanner Pearson - Bo Horvat - Nils Hoglander
Vasily Podkolzin - JT Miller - Conor Garland
Jason Dickinson - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser
Tyler Motte - Juho Lammikko - Alex Chiasson
Oliver Ekman-Larsson / Tucker Poolman
Quinn Hughes / ?
Kyle Burroughs / Tyler Myers
Possible Starting Goalie: Thatcher Demko (Jaroslav Halak backup)
Scratches: Justin Dowling
IR: Michael Ferland (LTIR), Brandon Sutter (LTIR), Brady Keeper (LTIR), Matthew Highmore (LTIR), Luke Schenn
—The Canucks had Travis Hamonic playing with Quinn Hughes on Monday, then assigned him to the AHL yesterday. Not sure what is going on there.
—To make matters worse for the Canucks, not on the ice yesterday at practice in Pittsburgh was Miller, the top player for the Canucks lately. It was called a maintenance day, so perhaps he will be able to play tonight, but perhaps not at 100%.
And now for the Pens..
Monday Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brock McGinn
Danton Heinen - Evan Rodrigues - Dominik Simon
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Mike Matheson / Chad Ruhwedel
Possible Starting Goalie: Tristan Jarry
Scratches: Sam Lafferty, Mark Friedman, Brian Boyle
IR: Evgeni Malkin (knee)
—The Pens were off again yesterday as they made their way back from Winnipeg. In the midst of a stretch of 13 games in 23 days with the majority on the road, there isn’t much practice time for the Pens. Most off days these days are reserved for travel and/or getting some rest for the next batch of travel and game day.
The Pens return home tonight, but enough really can’t be said about the three game road trip they just played, taking all six points and looking super impressive all along the way. It’s pretty much revived their season and could be looked back at as a turning point where they’ve really kicked it into gear, especially if they’re able to keep building upon the recent impressive play. Guentzel and Jarry have been really outstanding lately leading the way. From the Pens’ PR staff:
The Penguins were nearly flawless on their most recent three game trip to Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg, going a perfect 3-0 to move themselves from 13th in the conference back into a playoff spot. Below is a look at how dominating Pittsburgh has been since November 18, and the team’s rank among the league in the below categories:
Wins – 3 (T-1st)
Goals For – 11 (5th)
Goals Against – 1 (1st)
Shutouts – 2 (T-1st)
Power Play % - 25% (T-11th)
Penalty Kill % - 100% (T-1st)
Tristan Jarry started all three games for the Penguins, recording back-to-back shutouts, first on Nov. 18 in Montreal (24 saves), and then on Nov. 20 in Toronto (26 saves). Overall on the trip, Jarry stopped a whopping 80 of 81 shots (.988 SV%).