When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, MSG in NYC, NBCSN if you’re elsewhere in America
Opponent Track: The Rangers have now played six straight one goal games, and just can’t seem to put it together. They’re 1-3-2 in that stretch. They can “empty the tanks” tonight, because after this they have the next two days off before hosting Washington on Thursday before taking the short trip across the river to face New Jersey on Saturday.
Pens path ahead: No rest for the weary, the Pens play again tomorrow night, at home against New Jersey. They will then face Jersey Thursday at home for the dreaded third game in four days, before flying out to Long Island for a game on Saturday.
Season Series: Pittsburgh is already 3-0 vs NYR this season. The Pens beat the Rangers 4-3 in the shootout last Friday night with Kris Letang notching the deciding goal. Last Sunday, Pittsburgh defeated NYR 3-2 when Jake Guentzel scored a goal late in the third period to give the Pens the W. Sidney Crosby scored the OT winner on Saturday to seal a 5-4 win. The Pens and Rangers don’t play until March 7+9, back in the Burgh and then the season series is scheduled to be completed on April 6+8 in NYC.
Recent History: The Pens have dominated the Rangers as of late, going 7-0-3 vs. the Blueshirts in the last ten games. Expand it out further and Pittsburgh is 11-2-3 against NYR in the last 16 contests between the two teams.
Hidden stat: Pittsburgh is 4-1-1 with Kasperi Kapanen in the lineup. Kapanen has played 17+ minutes in the last three games as he rounds into game shape and has goals in two of the last three games.
SBN Team Counterpart: It’s some Blueshirt Banter time to learn the latest and greatest about the Rangers.
Player Stats at a Glance
—Phil Di Giuseppe has done well to create goals, but when a team’s top six scores include him, a rookie defenseman in K’Andre Miller and Colin Blackwell, that team probably isn’t going to experience much success. And they haven’t.
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich
Artemi Panarin - Ryan Strome - Phil Di Giuseppe
Alexis Lafreniere - Brett Howden - Kaapo Kakko
Brendan Lemieux - Colin Blackwell - Kevin Rooney
Ryan Lindgren / Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller / Jacob Trouba
Anthony Bitetto / Brendan Smith
Possible starting goalie: Igor Shesterkin
—One player we won’t be seeing tonight is Anthony DeAngelo (more below). Coach David Quinn has already said that Anthony Bitetto will make his season debut alongside Brendan Smith, so sadly no Jack Johnson in the lineup tonight either.
Scratches: Filip Chytil (injured), Julien Gauthier, Jack Johnson (day-to-day)
Rough ending for Tony DeAngelo
There’s a lot of rumor and innuendo about what happened after the end of the game on Saturday when Crosby scored. Reportedly DeAngelo got in a disagreement with goalie Alexandar Georgiev. Supposedly maybe even another player stepped in and it got physical. Regardless of exactly what happened, the Rangers waived DeAngelo yesterday. We’ll see at noon if anyone claims him, but he is pretty toxic right now and carries a $4.8 million salary cap hit for this year and next...So, yeah, no one is going to touch that.
Quinn: "This isn't about one incident, it's not about one thing. This is a situation that the organization felt was best at this current time and we'll see how the situation plays out."— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) January 31, 2021
In a piece of information that is endlessly entertaining to me, the Rangers have a salary cap penalty of $12.9 million dollars this season (and that doesn’t even count the cap-penalty free compliance buyout they gave Brad Richards in 2013, who remains on their payroll through 2026). If DeAngelo goes unclaimed and they can’t trade him or terminate his contract for clause, they will have to bury his cap hit that would make $16.7 million dollars that the team is penalized on their salary cap this year, more than 20% of the overall salary cap. Not the biggest deal since they’re not real contenders, but my goodness, what a display of financial blunders and inefficiencies.
And now for the Pens..
Player stats at a glance
—The Pens have used a league-high 11 defensemen so far this season, through only nine games. Not an area where you want to lead the league.
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Kasperi Kapanen
Jared McCann - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Drew O’Connor- Mark Jankowski - Sam Lafferty
P.O Joseph / Kris Letang?
John Marino / Cody Ceci
Yannick Weber / Chad Ruhwedel
Scratches: Colton Sceviour, Kevin Czuczman
Possible starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
IR: Zach Aston-Reese, Mike Matheson, Juuso Riikola, Marcus Pettersson, Evan Rodrigues
Taxi Squad: Alex D’Orio, Maxime Lagace, Anthony Angello, Frederick Gaudreau, Will Reilly,
—We’ll see if Letang can go or not, after getting hurt in the game on Saturday. The team didn’t practice on Sunday and didn’t offer any kind of update on his status.
Let’s get retro
Fittingly enough in New York, tonight marks the debut of the Penguins’ latest and greatest jersey, the “Retro Reverse” jersey. Below is the schedule for the six times that they will wear these jerseys in games this season.
3 keys to the game:
- Slow starters.. The Pens have only had a lead at the first intermission twice this season. NYR has only done so three times in their nine games. Pittsburgh has scored 9 GF vs 15 GA in the first period. For New York it’s 7 GF vs. 9 GA. Neither team gets off to particularly good starts this season, whatever team can do so tonight puts themselves in the driver’s seat for the rest of the game.
- Young defensemen showdown. With the Pens banged up on defense, and possibly worse than banged up and approaching total decimation if Letang can’t play, the spotlight will shine on P.O Joseph and John Marino big time. New York has answers for them — K’Andre Miller is a rookie and former first round pick, like Joseph, who has impressed early this season. Adam Fox is a top-pair right-handed shot from Harvard, just like Marino.
- Powerplay struggles..again. The Pens power play is 1/15 in the last 5 games. They’ve given up 2 SHG in this stretch. Just awful, and potentially without Letang they will be down a clutch member of the group.