Who: Anaheim Ducks (4-4-0, 8 points, 4th place Pacific Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (3-5-0, 6 points, 8th place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m.
How to Watch: Sportsnet Pittsburgh, Bally Sports SoCal, streaming on ESPN+
Pens’ Path Ahead: Pittsburgh might as well empty the tank tonight — they get FOUR days off after this and don’t play again after tonight until they’ll be in San Jose all the way on Saturday night. That’s the first of a leisurely California trip with the second leg of the trip not coming until next Tuesday November 7th against these very same Ducks that we’ll see tonight in Pittsburgh. Then the Pens finish their games in Cali off for the year next Thursday in Los Angeles.
Opponent Track: Anaheim started out the season 1-4-0, which would make you probably (rightfully) think, “ok yeah, that makes sense” about a team expected to struggle this year. But today they wrap up a four-game Eastern swing looking to take wins in all four games, having already secured victories in Columbus, Boston and Philadelphia. The win over Boston marked the Bruins’ first loss of the season. The Ducks also defeated Carolina earlier in the year. So take that away, this team IS capable of beating just about anyone.
Season Series: As mentioned above, it’ll be quick with these two teams rematching eight days away in Anaheim. That will wrap up their business together for the two-game out-of-conference set for the 2023-24 season.
Last Year: The Pens went 2-0-0 against Anaheim last season, but the Ducks had a 0-1-1 record from their perspective. Pittsburgh won 4-3 in OT in January 2023 (though it took a last minute Bryan Rust goal to avoid losing in regulation), and then won a more convincing 6-3 on the road in February.
Hidden Stat: In the two ANA/PIT games last year, the Penguins threw a whopping 104 total shots on goal at the Ducks’ net (45 SOG in the first meeting and 59 in the second). The finishing was there too with 10 total goals.
Getting to know the Ducks
Projected Game Lines
Trevor Zegras - Leo Carlsson - Troy Terry
Frank Vatrano - Mason McTavish - Ryan Strome
Max Jones - Adam Henrique - Jakob Silfverberg
Ross Johnston - Sam Carrick - Brett Leason
Cam Fowler / Jackson Lacombe
Pavel Mintyukov / Ilya Lybushkin
Urho Vaakanainen / Radko Gudas
Goalies: John Gibson and Lukas Dostal
Possible scratches: Tristan Luneau, Robert Hagg, Benoit-Olivier Groulx
IR: Isac Lundestrom, Jamie Drysdale, Alex Killorn, Brock McGinn
—Former Penguin Brock McGinn has yet to make his 2023-24 season debut while dealing with an undisclosed lower body injury.
—Alex Killorn has yet to make his debut in Anaheim after breaking a finger in a preseason game that will keep him out a while longer.
—GM Pat Verbeek’s moves when it came to adding veterans recently doesn’t lack for any subtlety. Between Lybushkin, Gudas and Johnston, the Ducks added a lot of sandpaper, weight and truculence as you’ll see in the league these days.
Cronin getting the Ducks swimming
Following a 7-4 win in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, new Anaheim coach Greg Cronin offered this thoughtful statement about his team’s offense and three-game winning streak.
️ Coach Cronin talked with the media after our win last night on the play of Frank Vatrano, Trevor Zegras getting his first goal of the season and what was working offensively. #FlyTogether pic.twitter.com/G4goYIB4Ka— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) October 29, 2023
—After long RFA holdouts with Zegras and Drysdale resulted in delayed or a lack of training camp time for both young rising players, it’s hard not to notice that Zegras has started slow and Drysdale is back on the IR.
—The Ducks have a unique plan with Leo Carlsson too. The 18-year old, second overall pick is being selectively scratched for games as the team looks to ease him into the rigors of the NHL. When he’s playing, he’s playing a lot- averaging just over 20 minutes in the four games to start the season. But they’re bringing him along slowly and trying to have the 6’3” 194 pound youngster add more strength to his frame.
—Frank Vatrano is off to a red-hot start with eight goals in the first eight games of the season. He has to be licking his chops to see the Pens up next, over the years Vatrano has 9G+4A in 18 career games against Pittsburgh as one of the more quiet tough opponents against the Pens in recent years..
And now for the Pens...
Infographic courtesy of Pens PR
Projected Game Lines (from Saturday’s game, no practice yesterday)
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Drew O’Connor - Lars Eller - Radim Zohorna
Matt Nieto - Noel Acciari - Jeff Carter
Ryan Graves / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson
Ryan Shea / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Magnus Hellberg
Expected scratches: P.O Joseph, John Ludvig (concussion), Vinnie Hinstroza
IR: Alex Nedeljkovic
Season opening IR: Raivis Ansons, Will Butcher
Anaheim a good Malkin opponent over the years
Games against Anaheim have gone well for Evgeni Malkin. From the Pens:
Evgeni Malkin enters tomorrow’s game with multiple points in three-consecutive games versus Anaheim (3G-4A) and four of his last five versus them overall (4G-7A). In 21 career games against the Ducks, Malkin has recorded 27 points (10G-17A), and his 1.29 points-per-game average against them is tied for second among active players (min. 15 GP):
Points-Per-Game Leaders vs. Anaheim, Active Players
Player GP PTS PTS/GM
Connor McDavid 24 39 1.63
Evgeni Malkin 21 27 1.29
Mika Zibanejad 17 22 1.29
Leon Draisaitl 29 37 1.28
Jonathan Huberdeau 19 23 1.21
Milestones in sight
Here’s a few various numbers the Pens are closing in on:
- Sidney Crosby: tied for 15th with Mark Recchi in NHL scoring history in all-time assists (956)
- Crosby: 1,198 career games
- Crosby: tied-12th (Joe Sakic) with 961 career even strength points (11th place Bryan Trottier has 963)
- Kris Letang: 696 career points
- Jake Guentzel: 199 career goals
- Matt Nieto: 199 career points
- P.O. Joseph: 99 career games