Canucks vs. Penguins Preview: Homecoming
The Pens return home after a big win in Arizona and an emotional team trip to Montreal.
When Evgeni Malkin re-signed with the Penguins last summer he said he only ever wanted to play in Pittsburgh because he wanted to stay with his "two brothers": one Canadian and one French Canadian. Those brothers are of course Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, the other two-thirds of the Pittsburgh Penguins' "Big Three" superstars. They're a trio of generational talents who were reared together in the organization from the time they were high school-aged kids, through winning three Stanley Cup Championships, and to becoming the legendary veteran NHL icons they are today.
The Penguins' core, their long-time team staff, and those who have joined along the way are a family, not just a team. And after they finally got a victory after a particularly tough stretch of games where they went 0-7 that family felt they needed to go be with their brother. Late on Sunday night, the entire team flew impromptu to Montreal to be with Kris Letang where he's been for a week since the death of his father: a Penguins' father, the team's father.
His brothers, one Russian and one Canadian, and the rest of the extended Penguins family were there.
The accounts of the visit capture what this generation of Pittsburgh Penguins are all about. They hadn't been home to Pittsburgh in over a week, since 2022 in fact, and still went above and beyond to be there for each other.
They're a band of brothers and although Kris still remains in Montreal his family will take the ice against the Canucks here in Pittsburgh tonight in his honor. You know which two Penguins will be leading that charge as a tribute.
Pens Game #40: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Vancouver Canucks
Date: January 10, 2023
Time: 7 PM (ET)
Place: Pittsburgh, PA
Venue: PPG Paints Arena
Broadcasts: Local- ATTSN, National- ESPN+
Social Media Hashtags #: #LetsGoPens #Canucks
Records- PIT: 20-13-6, VAN: 17-19-3
Last 10- PIT: 3-5-2, VAN: 4-6-0
Streaks- PIT: 1 Win, VAN: 1 Loss
Standings- PIT: 15th, VAN: 25th
Points- PIT: 46, VAN: 37
Season Series- 1-0
Series Goals For- PIT: 1, VAN: 5
Team Stats Comparison:
Confirmed starting goalies-
-CASEY DESMITH- #1
Bio Info: 6' 0", 181 lbs. DOB: 8/13/1991 (31). From: Rochester, NH.
Drafted: Undrafted; Experience: 5th Season.
Record: 5-8-2, 3.00 GAA, .909 SV%
Career vs. VAN: 1-0-1, 1.49 GAA, .945 SV%
-SPENCER MARTIN- #30
Bio Info: 6' 2", 198 lbs. DOB: 6/8/1995 (27). From: Oakville, ON.
Drafted: 2013- Rd 3, Pk 63 (COL). Experience: 3rd Season.
Record: 11-7-1, 3.63 GAA, .883 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 1-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .971 SV%
There were some small injury updates from Tuesday's optional gameday skate. Tristan Jarry was designated as "day-to-day" by the team although they said his return is not imminent, he's also not out longer term. That seems to indicate his injury is rehab-dependent, non-surgical, and not fracture related. Casey DeSmith will likely have to hold down the fort in the net for the majority of the next few weeks. We probably will even get to see Dustin Tokarski make his Penguins debut during this weekend's back-to-back set.
There are no further updates on Josh Archibald, Jeff Petry, and Ryan Poehling's injuries but all of those players skated at length before the team practice. All three men are out for tonight.
The Penguins are 8-4-1 in their last 13 games versus the Canucks overall. They'll be looking for some retribution after a rather embarrassing 5-1 loss to Vancouver earlier this season though.
Pittsburgh is a on brutal 0 for 21 stretch on the power play in their last four games. They’re facing the worst penalty kill in the league in the Canucks. There isn’t a better opportunity to resolve their special teams' woes than vs. Vancouver.
Sidney Crosby is coming up clutch for the Pens in the leading charge to overcome their recent struggles. Crosby has had a hand in four of the last six Penguins' goals. Resulting in one goal, three assists, and four points for himself. Once again it's just remarkable stuff for the Captain to be seizing hold of these moments and repeatedly rising to the occasion for the team at age 35. He hasn't missed a step.
Kasperi Kapanen is one assist away from 100 career assists. Kapanen has three assists in his last five games played so this is an attainable objective to reach tonight.
Sid is also on the hunt for another accomplishment. He's one even-strength goal away from passing Patrick Marleau (377) for 25th place on the list of all-time NHL even-strength goals leaders.
-Josh Archibald (F): lower body, day-to-day.
-Tristan Jarry (G): lower body, day-to-day.
-Jeff Petry (D): IR, upper body, week-to-week.
-Ryan Poehling (F): undisclosed, day-to-day.
The projected Penguins lines for Tuesday, January 10, 2023, vs. the Vancouver Canucks:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Drew O’Connor - Teddy Blueger - Brock McGinn
Marcus Pettersson - Jan Rutta
Brian Dumoulin - Ty Smith
P. O. Joseph - Chad Ruhwedel
PP1: Malkin, Crosby, Guentzel, Rakell, Smith
PP2: Carter, Rust, Heinen, Kapanen, Joseph
PK1: Blueger, McGinn, Dumoulin, Rutta
PK2: Carter, Rust, Ruhwedel, Pettersson
Vancouver has a surprisingly good powerplay, the ninth-best in the league, for as poorly as the Canucks have performed overall this season. They're converting almost a quarter of their powerplay chances. Bo Horvat leads that charge with a team-best 10 power play goals.
The Canucks former #1 goalie Thatcher Demko is out injured (in addition to falling into some performance woes this year), so the still somewhat unknown quantity Spencer Martin is the likely starter for Van City's hockey team. Martin has only faced the Penguins once in his career, earlier this year in a 5-1 win, so he's 1-0 vs. the team. And he still maintains a 1.00 goals-against average against them since the Penguins were only able to notch one in that game.
-Thatcher Demko (G): IR, lower-body, out until 1/14.
-Tanner Pearson (F): IR, hand, day-to-day.
-Tucker Poolman (D): LTIR, undisclosed, day-to-day.
For The Penguins: Jake Guentzel. Finally, back in the back of the net Guentzel had a two-goal game against Arizona following his two-point night in Las Vegas. Jake has four points and nine shots in just the last two games. His scoring drought was finally quenched by a trip to the desert of all places. Now we get to see what he has in store back in front of the home crowd in Pittsburgh once again.
For The Canucks: Bo Horvat. In between his name popping up in trade rumors for weeks, Bo Horvat has also been playing some great hockey. The Canucks captain has five points in the last four games played. He's on a four-game point streak, has points in six of his last seven games, and has recorded 13 points total in the last seven games. He scored twice against the Pens the last time these teams met too. Keep an eye on Horvat especially since the centerman sits on the market, this could be a future Pittsburgh Penguin we're watching.