Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (8-7-0, 16 points, 6th place Metropolitan Division) @ Carolina Hurricanes (9-7-0, 18 points, 3rd place Metropolitan Division)
How to Watch: SportsNet Pittsburgh, BSSO, streaming on ESPN+
Pens’ Path Ahead: It doesn’t get any easier from here. The Penguins’ next two opponents are the Vegas Golden Knights (13-3-1) and the New York Rangers (11-2-1).
Opponent Track: The Hurricanes are coming out of their first home loss of the season after being defeated 3-1 Wednesday by the Philadelphia Flyers. That marked the Canes’ second loss in three games after dropping a 5-2 clunker to the Florida Panthers on the road last Friday. It’s been a relatively underwhelming season start for a team that should be competing for the top of the Metro. As Jordan Staal put it, they’ve so far been “a .500 club that wins some games and loses some games and kind of ho-hum.”
Season Series: The Pens’ next three meetings with the Hurricanes are spread throughout the rest of the season. The Canes visit PPG Paints in December, then the Pens head back to Raleigh in January before finishing out the series at home in March.
Last Year: The Hurricanes swept the 2022-23 season series, which did not help the Penguins’ struggles to squeak into the playoffs at the bottom of the Metro. Both home losses came in overtime thanks to goals from Brett Pesce on November 29 and Jaccob Slavin on December 22.
Not-so-Hidden Stat: The Penguins power play is running at a 16.7 percent success rate. Sustained over a whole season, that would be their least effective man-advantage unit since 2011.
Getting to know the Canes
Lines from Friday’s practice
Teuvo Teravainen - Sebastian Aho - Seth Jarvis
Andrei Svechnikov - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Martin Necas
Jordan Martinook - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast
Michael Bunting - Jack Drury - Stefan Noesen
Jaccob Slavin - Brent Burns
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Dmitry Orlov - Tony DeAngelo
Goalies: Pyotr Kochetkov, Antti Raanta
Possible scratches: Brendan Lemieux, Jalen Chatfield
IR: Frederik Andersen
- The Canes mixed up their forward lines at Friday’s practice, per The Hockey News’ Ryan Henkel. According to Henkel, this combination is close to what the Canes were putting out in the final period of their 3-1 loss to the Flyers earlier this week. The biggest change involves slotting Teravainen in on the first line and putting Svechnikov on the second. We’ll see if the Hurricanes go with the adjusted lineup or stick with their Wednesday lines. It’s worth noting this practice lineup is closer to the top six the Canes were rolling last season.
- Former New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo has struggled this season. He’s been on the ice for 15 goals against so far this season, per Natural Stat Trick, and his presence (or lack thereof) on some of them has been noticeable.
The Inconsistent Canes
The Canes have dominated for stretches of games so far this season— but they’re struggling to consistently control play for a full 60.
From head coach Rod Brind’Amour, per Hurricanes.com’s Walt Ruff:
[Our game] is not consistent enough. It’s hard enough to win and we’re making it harder on ourselves. We’re trying to be too cute here or there. They blocked a ton of shots, give them credit. They played exactly how we said they would... We need to stick to our game plan more.”
“It’s frustrating, but it’s got to stop. That’s going to be on me pretty soon to start shaking things up if we continue to do that. We’re too good to be inconsistent.”
The Canes and the Pens are set to have a lot in common tonight as both middle-Metro teams hope to bounce back from an underwhelming loss.
And now for the Pens...
Infographic courtesy of Pens PR
Projected Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Drew O’Connor - Lars Eller - Radim Zohorna
Matt Nieto - Noel Acciari - Vinnie Hinostroza
Ryan Graves / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson
Ryan Shea / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Magnus Hellberg
Expected scratches: P.O. Joseph, Jeff Carter
IR: Alex Nedeljkovic, John Ludvig (concussion)
Season opening IR: Will Butcher
- The Pens landed in Raleigh on Friday, which was a slow news day for the team excepting this feature on the increasing importance of Letang as a defensive stalwart by Michelle Crechiolo of Pens Inside Scoop. Some snippets from Crechiolo’s feature on Letang, who is one point away from No. 700:
And this year in particular, the Penguins have been asking their franchise blueliner to lean into the defensive side of his game even more with the addition of Karlsson...
He still leads the team in average time on ice per game – it’s just that those minutes are distributed differently. It was a bit of an adjustment at the start getting used to his deployment on special teams, going from the first power-play unit to the second, and the second penalty kill unit to the first.
“I think Tanger’s done an amazing job in just embracing the role that we’re casting him in,” Mike Sullivan said. “I think he’s a very unselfish player and a terrific teammate with how he’s handled the circumstance.”
- The streak watch is still on. Sidney Crosby is on the 11th 10-game point streak of his career (7-8—15), which now stands as the the third-longest active streak in the NHL. Karlsson, meanwhile, leads league defensemen with points in seven straight.