Who: Minnesota Wild (6-3-0, 12 points, 3rd place Central division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (4-3-2, 10 points, 7th place Metropolitan division)
When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet locally in Pittsburgh, Bally Sports North, ESPN+
Opponent Track: The Wild have been off since Tuesday, where they beat Ottawa 5-4 in overtime at home. Before that, they had a three game road trip, only going 1-2-0 and being out-scored a combined 10-5 against Vancouver, Seattle and Colorado.
Pens path ahead: The Pens have their first road game since October 14 coming up on Tuesday, when they meet Marc-Andre Fleury and the Blackhawks in Chicago. Then it’s back to Pittsburgh to to meet the Florida Panthers on Thursday before a weekend road trip to two nation capitals (Ottawa on Saturday Nov 13th, then in Washington on Sunday Nov 14th).
Season Series: The Pens take their trip to Minnesota on March 31st
Random fact: The last time there was a PIT/MIN game, Jason Zucker was on the Wild (Jan 14, 2020)
SBN Team Counterpart: Pull up on Hockey Wilderness for all the Wild news you could hope for.
—Foligno has five points in the last six games, and eight overall on the season to somewhat unexpectedly be tied for the team lead in that department.
—Excited to see Kirill Kaprizov play in Pittsburgh for the first time, but we might not be by the end of the night. The 2021 Calder winner has eight points in nine games to start the season, which looks good enough, but literally just scored his first goal of the year in OT against Ottawa. After scoring 27G in 55 games last year it’s surprising it took him so long this season. That might be a bad sign for the Pens if Kaprizov is about to reel off on a hot streak now that the weight is off his shoulders about his long goal drought to start the season.
—Former Penguin flash-in-the-pan Frederick Gaudreau only has one point on the season, and nothing to show for the last two weeks of games. Fellow former Penguin Nick Bjugstad hasn’t gotten hurt (good!) but only has one point in nine games (not so good!)...Sticking with Pens ties, Calen Addison scored his first NHL goal last game, but also got sent back to the AHL since former Penguin Alex Goligoski is now healthy again and expected to play.
—Just going to say “backup goalie” for not hot. Cam Talbot has played in eight of the nine games, which seems like leaning on him a little too much already early in the season. Backup Kahko Kahkonen did not fare well in his lone appearance this season, giving up five goals on 29 shots.
Kirill Kaprizov - Joel Eriksson Ek - Marcus Foligno
Kevin Fiala - Frederick Gaudreau - Ryan Hartman
Brandon Duhaime - Nico Sturm - Nick Bjugstad
Adam Beckman - Connor Dewar - Kyle Rau
Dmitry Kulikov / Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin / Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill / Alex Goligoski
Probable Starting Goalie: Cam Talbot
Scratches: Victor Rask, Jordie Benn
IR: Jordan Greenway
COVID Protocol: Mats Zuccarello, Rem Pitlick
—Both Zuccarello and Pitlick are expected to come off the COVID list tomorrow, and it’s nice to see that no one else went on the list so hopefully the worst is behind Minnesota in that department.
—Woof at that center depth. Not sure what the plan is but this team needs upgrades there with limited options and availability.
—People get on the Penguins for having to call up a lot of random names and stuff, but Adam Beckman and Connor Dewar are NHL22 CPU player names, can’t be anything other than that. Been too long to see all these Western Conference teams and some of these names. (Meanwhile in Minnesota in a few hours, “Drew O’ -who?”)
And now for the Pens..
Jake Guentzel - Jeff Carter - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evan Rodrigues - Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brock McGinn
Drew O’Connor - Brian Boyle - Danton Heinen
Mike Matheson / Kris Letang
P.O Joseph / John Marino
Juuso Riikola / Mark Friedman
Probable Starting Goalie: Tristan Jarry
Scratches: Sam Lafferty, Dominik Simon
COVID non-roster list: Sidney Crosby, Brian Dumoulin, Marcus Pettersson, Chad Ruhwedel
IR: Evgeni Malkin (knee)
—Rust returned to practice yesterday on his typical line and with the power play, so he looks like the next reinforcement. Rust is officially a “game time decision” but all indications are looking it will be a favorable decision. The Pens can activate Rust without making any further roster moves, if they so choose.
More on the Over-Tang goal
Here’s a stat from Pens PR that I love, and one you may remember — the team’s all-time leader in GWG’s is still Jaromir Jagr. It’s one of the few major franchise marks that No. 68 still has after Lemieux, Crosby and Malkin all have made their marks after Jagr’s departure.
It kicked back up after the team sent the following note about Kris Letang’s move up the ranks after his latest GWG against the Flyers.
Kris Letang’s goal on Thursday was also the 27th game-winning goal of his career. The goal moves him into a tie with Kevin Stevens for the seventh-most game-winning goals in team history:
Jaromir Jagr 78
Mario Lemieux 74
Evgeni Malkin 73
Sidney Crosby 69
Jean Pronovost 42
Chris Kunitz 28
Kris Letang 27
Kevin Stevens 27
It’s a bit strange that for all the winning that Malkin and Crosby have done (and they’ve both played more games for the Pens than Lemieux did) and for all the scoring they have per game, that neither of the modern stars are tops in this category. Of course, the Pens of the 1990’s were no slouches either, and the eventual game “winning” goal can sometimes be a random one, so perhaps that is why this stat still has a unique ordering.
Best against the West
Pittsburgh has done really well against the opposite conference in recent times. From Pens PR:
Since 2019-20, Tristan Jarry has been rock solid against the Western Conference, earning points in 15 of 18 games (13-3-2) with a 2.15 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. Among Eastern Conference goaltenders with at least 10 games played against the West since 2019-20, Jarry’s goals-against average and save percentage rank third and sixth, respectively, in the league. His .778 winning percentage against the West ranks fourth in the league since 2019-20.
Since 2019-20, the Penguins’ 21 wins against the Western Conference rank second among all Eastern Conference teams, trailing only Carolina’s 22 wins.