Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (3-6-0, 6 points, 8th place Metropolitan Division) @ San Jose Sharks (0-9-1, 1 point, 8th place Pacific Division)
When: 10 p.m. ET
How to Watch: SportsNet Pittsburgh for the visitors, NBC Sports Bay Area & California for the home team
Pens’ Path Ahead: The Penguins are spending this week on a California road trip, with a rematch against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday coming up next ahead of a Thursday clash with the Kings in Los Angeles.
Opponent Track: The Sharks are close to being historically bad. They extended their season-opening streak to ten straight losses with a 10-1 blowout by the Vancouver Canucks Thursday. This is a team that has not won a game since April 1. If they lose one more game— looking at you, Pens!— they will tie the NHL record for the most losses to start a season (set most recently by the Arizona Coyotes in 2021-22.) This situation presents a litmus test as to your mindset to this Penguins team: does reading that make you feel hopeful that this game is where the Pens can get things turned around, or dread that this might be the night the Sharks finally break the streak?
Quinn quipped, on coaching his 300th NHL game tonight: "Well, I wish we'd won more."— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) November 2, 2023
Season Series: The Pens won’t see the Sharks again until March 14, when they play San Jose at PPG Paints as part of a three-game homestand that culminates in a back-to-back set against the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.
Last Year: The Sharks and Pens split the last season series. A pair of power-play goals from Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby gave the Pens an early lead on January 28, but Casey DeSmith wasn’t able to fend off the Sharks in a 6-4 loss. Two weeks later, Rickard Rakell and Jake Guentzel led the Pens to a 3-1 Valentine’s Day win in San Jose.
Hidden Stat: During his nine seasons as an Ottawa Senator, Erik Karlsson liked playing against the Sharks. He has 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 13 career games against San Jose.
Getting to know the Sharks
Projected Game Lines
Anthony Duclair - Tomas Hertl - Fabian Zetterlund
William Eklund - Mikael Granlund - Luke Kunin
Filip Zadina - Nico Sturm - Kevin Labanc
Given Smith - Ryan Carpenter - Jacob MacDonald
Mario Ferraro / Ty Emberson
Marc-Eduoard Vlasic / Kyle Burroughs
Nikita Okhotiuk / Jan Rutta
Goalies: Kaapo Kahkonen, Mackenzie Blackwood
Possible scratches: Mike Hoffman, Nikolai Knyzhov
IR: Alexander Barabanov, Logan Couture, Mitchell Russell, Matthew Benning
#SJSharks 10 goals this season are tied 4th-fewest in NHL history through a team's first 10 games in a season, and are tied-fewest (2014-15 Sabres and 2015-16 Ducks) by any team since the introduction of the center red line in 1943-44. #NHLStats #HockeyTwitter— Darin Stephens (@SharksStats) November 3, 2023
Points this season— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) November 3, 2023
Hughes brothers (Jack/Quinn/Luke) 41
Entire San Jose Sharks roster: 24
- The Sharks only have two players with more than two points so far this season. That would be Hertl (1-4—5) and Zetterlund (3-1—4).
- Logan Couture recently suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury, so it doesn’t like he’ll be returning to the Sharks roster any time soon. Meanwhile, Alexander Barabanov is out with a broken finger. That means four of the Sharks’ top five producers from last season are gone (Couture and Barabanov to injury, Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils and Karlsson to the Pens) leaving only Hertl to prop up the remnants of this team.
- The Pens will get to wave hello to former players Jan Rutta and Mikael Granlund. Granlund is skating as the Sharks’ second-line center, which provides a glimpse into the team’s depth issues.
The San Jose Sharks through 7 games:— Nathan "Grav" (@NathanGraviteh) October 27, 2023
> 0-6-1 record (32nd)
> 8 Goals Scored (32nd)
> 29 Goals Allowed (29th)
> 1.96 5v5 xGF/60 (32nd)
> 3.45 5v5 xGA/60 (32nd)
> 16% 5v5 High Danger GF% (32nd)
> 24.3 Shots per Game (32nd)
- Sharks goaltenders have struggled alongside the rest of the team this season. That feels hardly fair to point out when the Sharks have scored eight total goals in the seven games MacKenzie Blackwood has played this season. But so far, Blackwood’s consistency struggles with the Devils last season are continuing into 2023-24.
Good view behind the net on Beauvillier’s 2nd goal shows how a split-second decision by the goalie can really cost them at the NHL level (especially when you have no defence)— Gregory Balloch (@GregBalloch) November 3, 2023
Blackwood elects to come across flat on the goal line, goes into a post seal and never fully squares up. pic.twitter.com/lqJTjI2Fu0
The Sharks really, really, really, really want to win tonight
The Sharks went into this season knowing they weren’t a playoff team. They knew this roster is a dumping ground on bad contracts. But at this point things are just painful in San Jose.
Tomas Hertl said this was probably the most embarrassing loss of his career— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) November 3, 2023
Fans barely booing #SJSharks at the end of this period, down 8-0. Have either left, or checked out. Don't blame them— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) November 3, 2023
Recovering from that blowout loss in front of the home crowd— and beating Karlsson in his return to San Jose— presents about as much motivation as a league-bottom team can possibly have to win a regular-season game.
It remains to be seen if that will be enough. The Sharks have scored more than one goal just one time this season, in a 6-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, and have been shut out twice.
And now for the Pens...
Infographic courtesy of Pens PR
Projected Game Lines (from Thursday’s practice)
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: Jeff Carter, P.O Joseph, John Ludvig (concussion)
IR: Alex Nedeljkovic
Season opening IR: Raivis Ansons, Will Butcher
- P.O. Joseph still wasn’t back in the workflow during Thursday’s practice.
- But Vinnie Hinostroza was, leaving Jeff Carter to skate with Joseph on the extra defense pairing, per Pens Inside Scoop. Hinostroza recorded 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 26 games for the Buffalo Sabres last season and has four points (two goals, two assists) in five contests with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins so far.
Mike Sullivan’s actually gonna scratch Jeff Carter on Saturday. Wow.— Danny Shirey (@DannyShireyPGH) November 2, 2023
- Crosby is set to become the first player in Penguins history to play 1,200 games for the franchise tonight. Don’t worry, he’s still having a good time even in the face of a five-of-six losing pattern. “You don’t just love it when it’s good to you,” Crosby told NHL.com’s Wes Crosby. “You love it when it’s tough and when it’s difficult too. When that passion’s not there, or that love’s not there, it’s probably time to stop doing it.”
- A few more notes on Crosby’s 1,200th: he has the sixth-most points (1,512) and seventh-most assists (957) of any NHL player to reach that mark.