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Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @Buffalo Sabres 11/24/2023 - Lines, how to watch

Black Friday but with hockey

Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (9-9-0, 18 points, 6th place Metropolitan Division) @ Buffalo Sabres (8-9-2, 18 points, 6th place Atlantic Division)

When: 6:00 pm start

How to Watch: Nationally broadcast game on TNT, streaming on Max

Pens’ Path Ahead: The Pens have to get back home quickly, they’ll have the Maple Leafs to play tomorrow night. Next week the boys go south to take on Nashville (Tuesday) and Tampa (Thursday) before hosting Philadelphia next Saturday December 2nd.

Opponent Track: Since getting shutout 4-0 by the Penguins almost two weeks ago, Buffalo has gone just 1-2-1. This week they defeated Chicago but fell in OT to Washington on Wednesday.

Season Series: As mentioned above, Pittsburgh took round 1 vs Buffalo on Saturday November 11th, Tristan Jarry turned away 35 shots and Erik Karlsson scored two goals that night. After tonight’s second PIT/BUF meeting, the third and final game is coming up in Pittsburgh on January 6th.

Hidden Stat: In Buffalo, the Penguins have picked up points in 17 of their last 19 games (14-2-3) dating back to Mar. 30, 2012. (stat via Pens PR).

Getting to know the Sabres

Lines from Monday’s game

FORWARDS

Jeff Skinner - Dylan Cozens - Alex Tuch

Zach Benson - Casey Mittelstadt - JJ Peterka

Jordan Greenway Tyson Jost - Victor Olofsson

Zemgus Girgensons - Kyle Okposo

DEFENSEMEN

Rasmus Dahlin / Mattias Samuelsson

Owen Power / Henri Jokiharju

Connor Clifton / Erik Johnson

Ryan Johnson

Goalies: Devon Levi, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Possible scratches: Peyton Krebs, Jacob Bryson

IR: Tage Thompson, Jack Quinn

—Buffalo went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen last game out. We’ll see if they stick with that, unfortunately for them with Thompson and Krebs out their forward group is looking sparse these days.

Player stats

(via hockeydb)

—21-year old JJ Peterka is having a nice glow up, nearly matching his goal total from last season (12G in 77 games in 2022-23) already

Benson’s big opening goal

18-year old Zach Benson (drafted 13th overall last June, the Pens picked 14th) scored his first NHL goal in his ninth game. It was one to remember.

And now for the Pens...

Infographic courtesy of Pens PR

Potential Game Lines

Forwards

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Drew O’Connor

Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Alex Nylander

Vinnie Hinostroza - Lars Eller - Radim Zohorna

Matt Nieto - Noel Acciari - Jeff Carter

Defense

Ryan Graves / Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson

Ryan Shea / John Ludvig

Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic

Potential scratches: Bryan Rust (injury), Jansen Harkins

IR: P.O. Joseph (lower body injury), Rickard Rakell (upper body injury), Chad Ruhwedel (lower body injury)

Season opening IR: Will Butcher

—As of yesterday it was “status quo” for all the injured players, Bryan Rust (missing again) doesn’t look like he’ll be back today and naturally Ruhwedel and Rakell will be out for a longer amount of time.

Thriving on the road

Pens PR gives the 4-1-1 on the strong play the team has had on the road so far in 2023-24 (5-3-0 record overall).

The Penguins enter tomorrow’s game with wins in four of their last five road games, and the team ranks in the top-10 in the NHL in multiple road categories overall:

Category NHL Rank

Goals Per Game (4.00) T-2nd
Goals Against Per Game (2.75) 7th
Shots Per Game (32.6) 5th
Shots Against Per Game (28.3) 3rd
Faceoff Percent (53.2) 4th

Erik Karlsson has been one of the NHL’s most productive defensemen on the road as he’s notched 12 points (2G-11A) in eight games. His 11 assists are tied for first in the league among blueliners and his 1.50 points-per-game average leads all NHL defensemen on the road:

Highest PTS/GM Average Among Defensemen, Road

Player GP PTS PTS/GM

Erik Karlsson 8 12 1.50
Cale Makar 10 15 1.50
Victor Hedman 9 13 1.44
Adam Fox 7 9 1.29
Shea Theodore 10 12 1.20

Sidney Crosby has picked up 13 points (9G-4A) eight road games. His nine goals on the road lead the NHL:

Most Goals in NHL, Road

Player GP G

Sidney Crosby 8 9
Connor Bedard 11 8
Artemi Panarin 11 8
Trevor Moore 8 7
Travis Konecny 10 7

New power play ideas

It wasn’t a holiday for the team yesterday, the Pens practiced in Cranberry before heading up to Buffalo. It included some different things with power play personnel.

Is taking Evgeni Malkin and Reilly Smith off the top group going to help them score goals with Radim Zohorna and Vinnie Hinostroza there? That’s a rhetorical question, but the answer is no. At this point, one can’t complain for trying something —anything — different, but desperation moves reap limited results. If Erik Karlsson is blasting shots of the penalty killing forward’s shin pads, it won’t matter who is in front or down low by the net.

But, as said above, at this point they have to switch the personnel up somewhat. File us under the Gretz idea to simply start out all the role players and send a message that way. We’ll see how this works or how long it lasts..