Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (23-15-7, 53 points, 5th place Metropolitan Division) @ New Jersey Devils (29-12-4, 62 points, 2nd place Metropolitan Division)
When: 2:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet Pittsburgh in the Western PA viewing market, MSG-SN in the NY/NJ area, NHL Network outside of the local areas, Sportsnet in Canada
Opponent Track: This is the first game back at home for New Jersey following a successful 4-0-1 western road trip. But they did lose their last time out, 4-3 in OT in Seattle. The Devils have been tough to beat in regulation lately, they’re 6-1-2 in calendar 2023.
Pens Path Ahead: The Pens have three more games after this one this week before hitting the long All-Star break. Tuesday will be back in Pittsburgh to meet the Panthers, followed by a quick trip to another division opponent in DC on Thursday. Then the Pens are back at home on Saturday to face San Jose.
Season Series: NJ took round one with a 4-2 victory in Pittsburgh on December 30th. This is the second matchup, the third one is back in PA on Saturday, February 18th. The fourth and final PIT/NJ game is late in the year on April 6th back in Jersey.
Getting to know the Devils
SBN partner blog: All About the Jersey
Thursday’s Game Lines
Ondrej Palat - Nico Hischier - Jesper Bratt
Erik Haula - Jack Hughes - Dawson Mercer
Yegor Sharangovich - Jesper Boqvist - Tomas Tatar
Miles Wood - Michael McLeod - Nathan Bastian
Jonas Siegenthaler / Dougie Hamilton
Ryan Graves / Damon Severson
Nikita Okhotiuk / Brendan Smith
Goalies: Vitek Vanecek (Mackenzie Blackwood)
Scratches: Fabian Zetterlund, Alexander Holtz, Kevin Bahl
IR: John Marino, Jonathan Bernier
—Marino is nearing a return from his upper body injury with regular practices.
—Getting Palat back in the lineup after a lengthy injury absence really goes to help strength and balance the team up front.
—At 56 points, Hughes has tied his NHL season-best (set last year, in 49 games played). This is the first opportunity to have a full season, and he’s made the most of it currently on a 102-point pace.
—Now in his sixth NHL season, Hischier has grown right along with the team that picked him first overall in 2017. He’s up to a point per game, has worked up to being the team captain and can play in any situation. Not as flashy as some of his premiere peers, but is quietly becoming one of the top players in the game.
—It’s setup to be an uphill battle for the Penguins tonight. New Jersey has been an elite 5v5 team this season, and that’s fueled their place in the standings to win a ton of games.
And now for the Pens...
Potential Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Brock McGinn - Teddy Blueger - Jeff Carter
Drew O’Connor - Jonathan Gruden - Danton Heinen
Marcus Pettersson / Jeff Petry
Brian Dumoulin / Mark Friedman
P.O. Joseph / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Tristan Jarry (Casey DeSmith)
Scratches: Ty Smith, Kasperi Kapanen (lower body injury, week-to-week)
IR: Jan Rutta, Josh Archibald, Ryan Poehling, Kris Letang
—Letang practiced yesterday, but is not making the trip to NJ. He was in a “contact jersey” but also just to make sure for the power play that he would match everyone else, so Letang might not be super close to coming back. But hey, it’s getting closer every day in that perspective.
—Up front, Archibald and Poehling also took steps forward in the regular practice jersey but neither took line rushes. Given the state of the fourth line, it would be a boost to get them back too. Archibald’s not with the team today, and Poehling is still on IR so we’ll see if moves happen but it doesn’t seem impending.