Who: Arizona Coyotes (0-0-0) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (0-0-0)
When: 7:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, ESPN+ elsewhere (Bally Sports Arizona for the away broadcast)
Opponent Track: It’s the first game of the season for Arizona as well, who open things up with a six game road trip. They’ll be in Boston on Saturday for their next game.
Pens Path Ahead: Below is the team’s schedule for the month of October. The Pens start with three of the first four games at home, including the next game coming up on Saturday night against Tampa. Then things change after Saturday with 14 of the following 18 games for the Pens to be played on the road. They will also knock out a Western swing early in the season at the end of the month.
Season Series: The Pens make their trip to the sure to be interesting and maybe embarrassing new home of the Coyotes on January 8th to complete the two-game out-of-conference series between PIT and AZ this season.
Getting to know the Coyotes
SBN Counterpart Blog: Five For Howling
Clayton Keller - Travis Boyd - Nick Schmaltz
Zack Kassian - Barrett Hayton - Lawson Crouse
Nick Ritchie - Jack McBain - Christian Fischer
Liam O’Brien - Nick Bjugstad - Dylan Guenther
Shayne Gostisbehere / Dysin Mayo
JJ Moser / Conor Timmins
Patrik Nemeth / Troy Stecher
Goalies: Karel Vejmelka (Connor Ingram)
Scratches: Matias Maccelli, Juuso Valimaki, Josh Brown
IR: Andrew Ladd, Jacob Chychrun, Bryan Little (unofficially retired)
—Really don’t even know if these lines are accurate, I guess we’ll see! It would make sense if the newly acquired Valimaki (via waivers) gets in the lineup, perhaps at Nemeth’s expense.
—Tonight should mark the NHL debut for 19-year old Dylan Guenther. The 2021 No. 9 overall pick has made the roster for a nine game audition before deciding if they want to keep him for the full season and use the first year of his entry level contract, or send him back to juniors for the rest of the year.
—This team has two Conor/Connors on it already, and by the looks of things they will be gunning to add another Connor to the organization next season.
—Nice to see former Penguin Nick Bjugstad stick around in the league for another season. Bjugstad recorded seven goals and 13 points last season in 57 games with Minnesota.
—Clayton Keller is expected to play his first game after fracturing his leg on March 30th.
It’s the second season in the NHL and with the Coyotes for Karel Vejmelka. As you can see above, Vejmelka fills up a lot of the net just naturally, coming in at 6’4” and a hefty 224 pounds. Vejmelka, a 2015 fifth round pick of Nashville went unsigned by the Preds joined Arizona as a free agent in 2021. All things considered, he had an OK rookie season as the number one goalie on a bad team in 2021-22. Vejmelka appeared in 52 games for the Coyotes with a 13-32-3 record, adding one shutout, a 3.68 GAA and a .898 save%.
At times the Czech native performed well - such as in the month of March when he posted a 4-5-1 record and a solid a .921 save% in the month. At other times, Vejmelka was clearly in over his head and unable to help his over-matched team. One such night was on January 25th against Pittsburgh. Vejmelka gave up six goals on 36 shots and was on the business end of a 6-3 loss, which is his only game against the Penguins to date.
Vejmelka also catches with the “wrong” hand (right), which perhaps will throw the Pens off seeing such a goalie for the first time in a while. Then again, maybe the catching hand of the goalie being on the opposite side won’t matter.
Arizona’s other goalie, 25-year old Connor Ingram, was just claimed by the Coyotes on waivers and has all of three NHL games under his belt.
And now for the Pens...
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn - Ryan Poehling - Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Jeff Petry
Pierre-Olivier Joseph / Jan Rutta
Goalies: Tristan Jarry (Casey DeSmith)
Scratches: Teddy Blueger (day-to-day injury), Chad Ruhwedel
—Blueger was in a no-contact jersey yesterday at Pens pracitce and doesn’t look far away from playing, but it likely isn’t going to be in time for opening night tonight. Blueger called his lingering minor injury “frustrating” yesterday and admitted he doesn’t really know just when he will be able to return.
—Meanwhile it was P.O. Joseph skating in drills pretty much for the first time ever with Rutta in what appears to be the new third pair to start the season, despite not even Joseph knowing exactly what today (or tomorrow) could bring for his current status.
OK for fun (or until it gets embarrassing to lose too much money) I am going to be making a $10 bet on every game and tracking how it goes. In this game, getting excited for the opener I actually made two bets on DraftKings:
- $5.00 on over 6.5 goals in the game (+100, to pay $10.00)
- $5.00 on over 0.5 goals in 0:00 - 9:59 of first period (-165, to pay $8.03)
6.5 goals is high, but the action and reward is too good to pass up with the mighty Pens going against Arizona (Pittsburgh scored 10 total goals in two games vs. AZ last season). On the second bet, I just need either team to score in the first half of the first period to cash out.
Start ‘em up
Here’s the Pens’ history for season opening games at PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh is 7-4-1 all-time in this building in home openers.
Oct 13, 2022: ? vs Arizona
Oct 16, 2021: 4-2 win vs Chicago
Jan 17, 2021: 4-3 (SO) win vs Washington
Oct 3, 2019: 3-1 loss vs Buffalo
Oct 4, 2018: 7-6 win (OT) vs Washington
Oct 4, 2017: 5-4 (OT) loss vs St. Louis
Oct 13, 2016: 3-2 (SO) win vs Washington
Oct 13, 2015: 3-2 loss vs Montreal
Oct 9, 2014: 6-4 win vs Anaheim
Oct 3, 2013: 3-0 win vs New Jersey
Jan 23, 2013: 5-2 loss vs Toronto
Oct 11, 2011: 4-2 win vs Florida
Oct 7, 2010: 3-2 loss vs Philadelphia
After a long summer, a new season begins in Pittsburgh. For the 55th time, the Pens will write a chapter of their history in the NHL. Where this one ends up remains to be seen, but the story will begin in earnest with the beginning coming today.