Who: San Jose Sharks (17-14-1, 35 points, 5th place Pacific division) Pittsburgh Penguins (17-8-5, 39 points, 4th place Metropolitan division)
When: 1:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet for the local feed, NBC Sports California for the away broadcast, ESPN+
Opponent Track: San Jose was off from December 17-27, but have played two games since the NHL has slowly lurched back to a start in the last week. SJ won a wild 8-7 shootout game at home against Arizona last Tuesday on 12/28 and then won a 3-2 OT game against the Flyers also at home on Thursday.
Pens path ahead: The Pens have two days off after today, and then business will pickup. Pittsburgh hosts St. Louis on Wednesday at home before playing on the road at Philadelphia on Thursday for a back-to-back. Then the Penguins head west to play Dallas next Saturday before heading out to California in the following week to play Anaheim, LA and these Sharks from 1/11- 1/15.
Season Series: As mentioned above, this will be the first meeting and then these teams will meet in San Jose on Saturday 1/15 to complete the season series in less than two weeks time.
Random fact: Pittsburgh is 15-4-3 in games where they score more than one goal (h/t Pens PR).
—The Sharks have a massive eight players with a point/game average since the restart (thanks largely to that 8-7 AZ game), with Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture leading the way with a matching 2G+1A in the last two games.
—Vlasic only has 1 assist in the last 10 games
Friday Practice Lines
Timo Meier - Logan Couture - Alexander Barabanov
Noah Gregor - Tomas Hertl - Jonathan Dahlen
Andrew Cogliano - Nick Bonino - Matt Nieto
Jeffrey Truchon-Viel - Lane Pederson - Jonah Gadjovich
Marc-Edouard Vlasic / Brent Burns
Jacob Middleton / Erik Karlsson
Radim Simek / Nicolas Meloche
Possible Starting Goalie: James Reimer (Zach Sawchenko backup)
Scratches: Kevin Labanc
COVID Protocol: Mario Ferraro, Adin Hill
IR: Rudolfs Balcers, Nikolai Knzyhov
Taxi squad: Jayden Halbgewachs, Nick Merkley, Jaycob Megna, Ryan Merkley and Alexei Melnichuk
—With the quietly steady Ferraro out of the lineup, Karlsson played a season-high 29:46 last game. Due to age and injuries he’s kinda fallen off the map a little in recent years, but is now a crucial player for SJ.
And now for the Pens..
Jake Guentzel- Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Evan Rodrigues - Anthony Angello?
Zach Aston-Reese - Drew O’Connor - Brock McGinn
Kasper Bjorkqvist - Sam Lafferty - Dominik Simon
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Mike Matheson / Chad Ruhwedel
Starting Goalie: Casey DeSmith (Louis Domingue backup)
Scratches: Brian Boyle (personal reasons), Mark Friedman
COVID Protocol: Kasperi Kapanen, Tristan Jarry, Jeff Carter, Teddy Blueger, Pierre-Olivier Joseph
IR: Evgeni Malkin (knee), Jason Zucker (lower body injury)
Taxi Squad: Radim Zohorna, Juuso Riikola
—Still could be a bit of changes from above that could written in for the game lineup. All of Marino, Matheson and Simon are eligible to play as they cleared protocols yesterday, with Rodrigues coming back on Friday and likely to play.
—The good news is that Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust are expected back to boost the first line. The bad news is the rest of the lines are, well, not very threatening overall with the Pens losing Carter, Kapanen, Blueger and Zucker from the last time they played. It’ll add up to much less depth for Pittsburgh for a while.
—Brian Boyle and his wife are expecting a baby, he was excused from practice yesterday and declared out for today’s game fairly early.
Season re-starts now
Mike Sullivan and the Pens are doing what they can with what they have as their season gets going again after two full weeks off and plenty of players coming in and out of the lineup.
The Penguins FINALLY return to the ice tomorrow at PPG Paints Arena.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 1, 2022
Here's what Coach Sullivan had to say ahead of the 1:00 PM matchup ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/SWBEngqoxW
Jake is back!
Jake Guentzel will be hoping to pick up right where he left off after getting injured. From the Pens PR department:
Guentzel, who was injured in Pittsburgh’s 6-1 win over Seattle on Dec. 6, was one of the hottest players in the league at the time of his injury. He enters tonight’s game with points in each of his last 13 games (official point streak has since been snapped since he missed games due to injury), accumulating 19 points (12G-7A) during that span. He also has seven goals in his last four games played (7G-2A), and at the time of his injury, his 15 goals were tied for sixth in the NHL.
Guentzel has been held off the scoresheet in just four of his 24 games played, three of which came in his first seven games of the season.