The struggling Penguins are on a season-low losing streak and about to face the second-place Bruins.
That's not a word that's often mentioned in the same sentence as the Pittsburgh Penguins. But the Pens were swept 0-4 on their Northern Pacific road trip last week. The total score differential was 18-6 in all. In three out of four games, the Penguins could only put a single goal on the scoreboard. Their special team units are spiraling in tandem with their performance. They've plummeted down the league rankings too.
More bad news came yesterday when it was announced that Kris Letang's status is uncertain as he battles illness and Jeff Carter is out day-to-day after sustaining an undisclosed lower-body injury late in the game against Seattle.
The Pens are trying to regroup without their full troops to halt this downward slide. And tonight one of the best teams in the NHL comes into town as their opponent: the Boston Bruins.
Tuesday's game in primetime on national TV on ESPN will either be the beginning of a big turnaround or rock bottom.
Pens Game #10: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Boston Bruins
Date: November 1, 2022
Time: 8 PM (ET)
Place: Pittsburgh, PA
Venue: PPG Paints Arena
Records- PIT: 4-4-1, BOS: 8-1-0
Streaks- PIT: 4 Losses, BOS: 5 Wins
Standings- PIT: 25th, BOS: 2nd
Points- PIT: 9, BOS: 16
'21-22 Season Series- 2-1 PIT
'21-22 Series Goals For- PIT: 9, BOS: 4
Team Analytics Comparison:
Projected starting goalies-
-Tristan Jarry- #35
Bio Info: 6' 2", 194 lbs. DOB: 4/29/1995 (27). From: Surrey, BC.
Drafted: 2013- Rd 2, Pk 44 (PIT). Experience: 7th Season.
Record: 4-2-0, 3.02 GAA, .915 SV%
Career vs. BOS: 3-5-2, 2.96 GAA, .911 SV%
-Linus Ullmark- #35
Bio Info: 6’4”, 215 lbs. DOB: 7/31/1993 (29). From: Lugnvik, Sweden.
Drafted: 2012- Rd 6, Pk 163 (BUF). Experience: 8th Season.
Record: 6-0-0, 1.70 GAA, .945 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 1-0-0, 2.80 GAA, .932 SV%
Jeff Carter's out, Drew O'Connor's in. Jeff Carter is the new addition to the Pens' injury list. He's out tonight and day-to-day with a lower-body injury sustained in the final period of the loss to the Seattle Kraken. Drew O'Connor has been recalled from the minor leagues and is expected to slip into Carter's spot on the third line. He'll likely get time on the Pens' penalty kill too. "DOC" has been one of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' best players of the young year. He has two goals and four assists in eight games played, and most crucially leads the team with 30 shots. He's very comfortable unleashing the puck himself. That's an important quality for a Pens team that has only scored one goal in each of their last three games.
Kris Letang is a game-time decision due to illness. He did not skate in practice yesterday nor in today's sparsely populated optional morning skate. Letang's potential absence will likely affect the overall D-pairings as extra defenseman Chad Ruhwedel does not easily fit into #58's top-line role. This is likely to result in several lines being adjusted to fit the players they have available.
Tristan Jarry has had trouble with Boston historically. His record is 3-5-2 against them all-time. And recently, as the Pens struggled in their Western road trip, Jarry's stats have as well. His goals against average has crept up to an unnerving 3.02. Let's hope home-ice advantage can turn his fortunes around.
Move over for #1! Head Coach Mike Sullivan will coach his 517th game for the Penguins tonight. That will put him first for most games coached in Pens history, overtaking Eddie Johnston for that superlative. Sullivan takes this honor against his hometown Bruins too.
-Teddy Blueger (F): LTIR, upper body, is out until 11/5 at least.
-Jeff Carter (F): lower body, day-to-day.
-Kris Letang (D): illness, game-time decision.
The projected Penguins lines for Tuesday, November 1, 2022, vs. the Boston Bruins:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn - Ryan Poehling - Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang*
Marcus Pettersson - Jeff Petry
Pierre-Olivier Joseph - Jan Rutta
[*Chad Ruhwedel will slot in on the right defense without Letang.]
[TBD- Consider these very loose structures due to a lack of full gameday skate lines.]
PP1: Crosby, Rust, Malkin, Guentzel, Letang/Petry*
PP2: TBD/Petry*, Zucker, Rakell, Heinen, Joseph
PK1: Rust, Kapanen, Petry, Pettersson
PK2: Poehling, McGinn, Dumoulin, Rutta
(*Depending on Kris Letang’s availability to play)
Boston has just one loss all year, so the Penguins' work is cut out for them. They'll have a little luck in the fact Boston will be without number one D-man Charlie McAvoy and forwards Craig Smith and David Krejci. But the Bruins are on a five-game win streak anyway so the task ahead is tall.
Linus Ullmark is playing like a goaltending superstar this season for Boston. He remains undefeated at 6-0-0. It's difficult to anticipate what to expect from him against the Penguins as he only has a single career start vs. Pittsburgh: a victory with a 2.80 goals against average and .932% save percentage back in 2018-19 while with the Buffalo Sabres.
Key players added: Forwards- David Krejci, Pavel Zacha.
Key players lost: Forwards- Erik Haula, Curtis Lazar. Defenseman- Josh Brown.
-Charlie McAvoy (D): IR, shoulder, day-to-day.
-Craig Smith (F): upper body, day-to-day.
-David Krejci (F): IR, upper body, day-to-day.
-Milestone Tracker: November Update-
Notable upcoming achievements & records for November:
-Evgeni Malkin is 10 games away from 1,000 (!) career games played (at 990).
-Casey DeSmith is 1 game away from 100 career games played (at 99).
-Ryan Poehling is 6 games away from 100 career games played (at 94).
-Tristan Jarry is 3 wins away from 100 career wins (at 97).
-Casey DeSmith is 7 wins away from 50 career wins (at 43).
-Jason Zucker is 4 away from 300 career points (at 296).
-Sidney Crosby is 1 assist away from 900 career assists (at 899).
-Jeff Carter is 7 assists away from 400 career assists (at 393).
-Rickard Rakell is 5 assists away from 200 career assists (at 195).
-Brian Dumoulin is 2 assists away from 100 career assists (at 98).
-Danton Heinen is 5 assists away from 100 career assists (at 95).
-Kasperi Kapanen is 7 assists away from 100 career assists (at 93).
For The Penguins: Jake Guentzel. Guentzel is the only thing working right now for the Penguins. He was the lone (merciful) goal for against Seattle. Whenever he's healthy, he delivers for the Pens this season. Guentzel has goals in all but one game played in 2022-23.
For Boston: Linus Ullmark. It’s already been mentioned here, but Ullmark is a perfect 6-0-0 on the season. Ullmark is the last remaining starter who stands without a loss in regulation or overtime in 2022-23. He’s got a very stingy 1.70 goals against average. Scoring on him has been a very rare occurrence this year. He’s only given up 11 goals in total. Ullmark’s steadiness in the net is the main engine powering Boston’s current success.