Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (6-7-3, 15 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division) @ Minnesota Wild (7-7-2, 16 points, 4th place Central Division)
When: 8:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, Bally Sports North and Bally Sports Wisconsin, TVAs up north, Sling TV
Opponent Track: It’s been a one up, one down type of season for the Wild so far, who like the Penguins are disappointed to sit where they are at this point of the year. Minnesota is 3-2-2 in the month of November, and 1-1-1 in the past week. Goals have been difficult to come by lately, the Wild have only scored eight total times in their last six outings (1, 2, 1, 4, 0 and 0) with half of that outburst coming in a 4-1 win against Anaheim (who gives up four or more goals to everyone so far).
Pens Path Ahead: It’s a quick trip through the upper midwest this week, in Minnesota tonight of course, and then up to Winnipeg for a 7pm eastern start on Saturday night. Then the Pens jump down to Chicago for a Sunday evening 7pm eastern start before returning home to host Calgary next Wednesday.
Season Series: The Wild don’t come to Pittsburgh until April 6th, which is scheduled to be Marc-Andre Fleury’s only game back in town this season to complete the out-of-conference season series.
Hidden Stat: The Wild start a seven-game home-stand tonight, but are only 2-4-1 this season in their home digs (compared to 5-3-1 on the road this season). The Pens haven’t been a formidable road foe themselves this year, handing their hosts seven wins in 10 games (3-5-2). So in that way at least someone will feel happy after tonight where either Minnesota takes a step forward at home or the will Pens draw closer to .500 on the road.
Hidden Stat Part II: Rickard Rakell has played 35 regular season games for the Pens (11G+12A). He only has one two-goal game, coming against the Wild on March 31st in a game played in Minnesota, too.
Getting to know the Wild
SB Nation counterpart: Hockey Wilderness
Kirill Kaprizov — Frederick Gaudreau — Mats Zuccarello
Mason Shaw — Connor Dewar — Matt Boldy
Brandon Duhaime — Joel Eriksson Ek — Marcus Foligno
Sam Steel — Marco Rossi — Tyson Jost
Jacob Middleton / Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin / Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill / Calen Addison
Goalies: Filip Gustavsson (Zane McIntyre)
Scratches: Marc-Andre Fleury (injury), Jordan Greenway (injury), Adam Beckman, Alex Goligoski
IR: Ryan Hartman
—The loss of Hartman (whose 34 goals last season were second on the team behind only Kaprizov) has gone hand-in-hand with the struggles to produce goals lately for the Wild. They’re not a deep team down the middle, and Hartman’s loss has been profound. Checker extraordinaire Jordan Greenway has been limited to only two games on the season as well and is another major piece missing.
—Marc-Andre Fleury recently suffered an undisclosed upper body injury and minor leaguer McIntyre was called up to fill out the goalie position. Big shame on the timing, since the Pens and Fleury only see each other twice a year in Fleury’s continued tour of Western Conference teams (Vegas, Chicago, Minnesota).
—Feels weird to say a player has “finally” graduated to the NHL when he’s still only 22-years old, but former Penguin draft pick and Jason Zucker trade piece Calen Addison has made it to the NHL working on a lower pair and getting some power play time (and assists) so far this season. It’s felt like a long journey for Addison, who was drafted in 2018 and is now in his third year as a professional.
—The Kaprizov-Zuccarello partnership is one of the most magical ones in the league right now for a pair of talented teammates whose chemistry enhances their already impressive abilities. Beyond those two and the blossoming Matthew Boldy, it has been a struggle to find consistent scoring options this year in Minnesota.
—Between Fleury, Addison, Goligoski, Freddy Gaudreau, Alex Goligoski and Gustavsson, the Wild sure have their share of former Penguins draft picks/players.
And now for the Pens...
Potential Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Danton Heinen
Ryan Poehling - Teddy Blueger - Josh Archibald
Marcus Pettersson / Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin / Jeff Petry
Chad Ruhwedel / Jan Rutta
Goalies: Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith
Scratches: Kasperi Kapanen, P.O. Joseph (day-to-day lower body injury)
—The Pens had a quick practice on Wednesday and didn’t take full line rushes, but in limited looks it appears they have swapped the top two right wings for each other, like they were at the very tail end of the last game.
—The roster is somewhat precarious for the Penguins, who are now cap compliant after activating Teddy Blueger from LTIR earlier in the week and assigning all their minor league extras (Filip Hallander, and at times Mark Friedman/Sam Poulin) back to the AHL. Joseph is practicing and doesn’t seem too far off from playing, but presumably at the moment the Pens are on the road and have only six 100% healthy defenders on the roster.
Jake Guentzel: "There's a lot of season left, but I think we know we just got to be a little bit better in all areas and make sure we're playing a full 60. The start of periods and the end of periods have been hurting us lately, so we gotta make sure we're ready to go."— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) November 16, 2022
Guentzel will be back to where he makes his off-season home, has six points (3G+3A) all-time against the Wild...Jason Zucker has recorded three assists in two games with the Pens against his former team.