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Game Preview: St. Louis Blues @ Pittsburgh Penguins 12/30/2023 - Lines, how to watch

The Blues come to town

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Who: St. Louis Blues (18-16-1, 37 points, 6th place Central Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (16-13-4, 36 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: BSMW, SN-PIT, streaming on ESPN+

Pens’ Path Ahead: The Penguins are back tomorrow at 6 p.m., when the New York Islanders will look to get revenge for the Pens’ 7-0 shutout win on Wednesday.

Opponent Track: The Blues have won six of their last eight games, but dropped their most recent game last night against the Colorado Avalanche, falling 2-1 at home. Add in some late night travel to get to Pittsburgh and it’ll make for a cramped 24-28 hour stretch for STL.

Season Series: During these two teams’ first meeting on Oct. 21, Evgeni Malkin tied things up with five seconds left in the second period, but the Penguins were unable to complete the comeback in a 4-2 loss in St. Louis.

Hidden Stat: The Blues have an 11-6-0 record and 22 points at home but have struggled on the road this season, ranking among the bottom 10 visiting teams in the NHL with a 7-10-1 slate and 15 points while away.

Getting to know the Blues

Projected lines (from Friday night’s game)

FORWARDS

Pavel Buchnevich - Robert Thomas - Jordan Kyrou

Jake Neighbours - Brayden Schenn - Kasperi Kapanen

Brandon Saad - Kevin Hayes - Alexey Toropchenko

Mackenzie MacEachern - Oskar Sundqvist - Samuel Blais

DEFENSEMEN

Nick Leddy - Colton Parayko

Torey Krug - Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella - Scott Perunovich

Goalies: Jordan Binnington, Joel Hofer

Possible scratches: Nikita Alexandrov, Tyler Tucker

IR: Anton Malmström, Josh Jacobs

  • Blues head coach Drew Bannister decided to do some line shuffling on Dec. 21. Since then the Blues have won four straight. Changes included moving Jake Neighbours up to the second line and Brandon Saad to the third.
  • What didn’t change was the top line, which has been deadly as of late and will be the biggest threat against the Pens tonight. Buchnevich (eight points in his last eight games), Thomas (11 points in the last seven games) and Kyrou (eight in last seven) have been driving production lately.

Player stats

(via hockeydb)

  • Former Penguin Kasperi Kapanen is on a dry streak. He hasn’t scored since Nov. 14 and has just four assists in the 20 games since then, but is still getting over 14 minutes of ice time per game in part because of his work on the penalty kill. He’s spent more time playing a 4v5 this season so far than he did in all three seasons with the Penguins combined, per Natural Stat Trick.

And now for the Penguins

Projected lines (from Friday’s practice)

FORWARDS

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell

Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Drew O’Connor

Radim Zohorna - Lars Eller - Valtteri Puustinen

Jansen Harkins - Noel Acciari - Jeff Carter

DEFENSEMEN

Marcus Pettersson / Kris Letang

Ryan Graves / Erik Karlsson

John Ludvig / Chad Ruhwedel

Goalies: Tristan Jarry, Alex Nedeljkovic

Potential scratches: P.O. Joseph, Vinnie Hinostroza

IR: Matt Nieto (lower body injury), Bryan Rust (week-to-week injury)

  • Rust, who is eligible to return Jan. 2, was a full participant in practice Friday, per Pens Inside Scoop.
  • Zohorna missed practice due to illness, so Rust skated in his place:
  • Don’t look now, but formerly snakebitten Rickard Rakell has points in three consecutive games, and goals in two straight.
  • The Penguins are coming out of a Wednesday win that was historic for even more reasons than Letang’s record-breaking five-point second period and Evgeni Malkin’s milestone goal to pass Sergei Federov. The win also marked the Pens’ sixth shutout of the team’s 33rd game of the season, marking the second-fastest run to six shutouts in franchise history (beaten only by reaching the mark in 31 games in 2014-15, per Pens PR.)