The Pens attempt to avoid a seven game losing streak as they take on Seattle.
Searching for answers....that’s the mode the Pittsburgh Penguins are currently in.
Their problems are many and the time to find solutions is running a little low now that they’re 24th in the standings and the calendar has turned to November as crunch time is soon approaching. It's very difficult to right a team in time for the playoffs towards the end of December. And the Pens are already in a hole large enough that they’re going to have to go on a tear soon to keep pace with the cutthroat competition of the NHL's Metro Division.
The Penguins aren’t working on any level except for the occasional flashes of offense from their top six forwards.
Elsewhere, the core issues remain much the same as they have for most of this year. The defense is a mess. Both Brian Dumoulin and Jeff Petry are struggling to even look functional. Special teams have become liabilities both ways. Goaltending isn’t giving them any timely saves in the crunch or off of the rush. The backup goalie is completely lost and doesn’t have a single win on the season. The bottom six forwards are M.I.A.
And perhaps most crucially coach Mike Sullivan is not making the necessary line changes to address these problems or any line changes at all.
Stagnation spells doom in the NHL. And right now that word: stagnate, accurately describes the play and look of the Penguins.
The issues surrounding the team on ice are being complicated by player availability problems as well. Yesterday’s practice revealed a slew of new issues.
Josh Archibald had a maintenance day after ending the game vs. Buffalo in multiple scuffles and is a game-time decision for tonight. Jake Guentzel was out from practice due to illness and is also a game-time decision. Teddy Blueger and Jeff Carter will not play due to injuries either. Their potential return dates are not yet known.
Finishing on that heap of bad news, now we get to the game details:
Pens Game #12: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Seattle Kraken
Date: November 12, 2022
Time: 7 PM (ET)
Place: Pittsburgh, PA
Venue: PPG Paints Arena
Broadcasts: Local- ATTSN, National- ESPN+
Records- PIT: 4-5-2, SEA: 6-4-2
Streaks- PIT: 6 Losses, SEA: 3 Wins
Standings- PIT: 24th, SEA: 9th
Points- PIT: 10, SEA: 14
Season Series- 1-0 SEA
Series Goals For- PIT: 1, SEA: 3
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: 4-2-1, 3.42 GAA, .904 SV%
Career vs. SEA: 0-0-1, 1.96, .931 SV%
-Martin Jones- #30
Bio Info: 6’4”, 190 lbs. DOB: 1/10/1990 (32). From: North Vancouver, BC.
Drafted: Undrafted. Experience: 10th Season.
Record: 5-3-1, 2.69 GAA, .893 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 7-5-0, 2.10 GAA, .929 SV%
Kris Letang revealed on Friday that he is still battling a 10-day-long illness of some sort. He is playing through it however and is not considered on the injured/illness list. Letang's illness explains part of the reason the top defensive pair is in such disarray.
The second part of the equation is that the thoroughly struggling Brian Dumoulin is still playing on the top pair and on the #1 penalty kill unit despite it being one of the worst in the league.
-Jake Guentzel (F): illness, game-time decision.
-Josh Archibald (F): unknown, game-time decision.
-Teddy Blueger (F): upper body, day-to-day/out vs. Seattle.
-Jeff Carter (F): lower body, day-to-day/out vs. Seattle.
The projected Penguins lines for Saturday, November 4, 2022, vs. the Seattle Kraken:
*There are no complete lines due to injury or uncertainty with 4 forwards. Lines were jumbled at practice as well. Included are very tentative configurations from practice for the top 6:
Danton Heinen/Jake Guentzel* - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
[*Playing status depending on health.]
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson - Jeff Petry
Pierre-Olivier Joseph - Chad Ruhwedel - Jan Rutta (rotated)
PP1: Crosby, Rust, Rakell, Malkin, Letang
PP2: Poulin, Zucker, Heinen, Joseph, Petry
PK1: Poehling, McGinn, Dumoulin, Rutta
PK2: O’Connor, Kapanen, Pettersson, Ruhwedel
[*Special teams units are also estimations and subject to change depending on player health.]
Seattle comes into tonight's game hot on a four-game win streak and is undefeated on their current road trip. They've been firing on all cylinders since beating the Pens last week.
The Kraken are a difficult challenge for one of the Penguins' most noticeable woes- defending the rush. Seattle is a top-ten team in the league for rush chances per Kraken analyst Alison Lukan. They also are sixth in chances from the rebound, which is frequently the product of rushes that don't initially score. So rebound control and zone defense entry will be paramount tonight for the Pens.
One glaring weak spot the Kraken do have is in the faceoff circle. They're last in the league in faceoff win percentage at 41.4%, while the Penguins stand at 16th (50.9%). This is a small opening that could give the Pens an advantage in dictating play and potentially result in some chances for set faceoff plays for scoring attempts.
-2022-23 Series Leaders vs. Penguins-
Points: Jaden Schwartz- 2.
Goals: Jaden Schwartz, Morgan Geekie, Jordan Eberle- 1.
Plus/Minus: Vince Dunn, Adam Larsson- +3.
Shots: Jaden Schwartz- 5.
Hits: Jamie Oleksiak, Adam Larrson- 4.
Blocks: Vince Dunn- 3.
-Jared McCann (F): lower body, day-to-day.
-Joonas Donskoi (F): IR, upper body, day-to-day.
-Philipp Grubauer (G): IR, lower body, day-to-day.
-Chris Driedger (G): IR, ACL surgery, out until February.
For The Penguins: Jason Zucker. Zucker broke through with a gutsy goal vs. the Sabres (with a Jagr-inspired celebration to boot). Now that he’s healthy, he’s playing a scrappy game again and tends to rise to the task in difficult moments. And the Pens are almost always having difficult moments of late. Zucker is also just two points shy of 300th career points. He has some extra motivation to his play to hit that milestone.
For The Kraken: Shane Wright. The Penguins appear set to get their first look at the former consensus #1 draft pick Shane Wright, who infamously fell down the selection order to fourth overall in surprising fashion last June after several teams decided to pass on him. He'll be centering the Kraken's third line. The 18-year-old true rookie hasn't made much of an impact so far only producing one assist in six games played. His draft experience has left him with a lot to prove and the Pens are already a big benchmark team for players to make statements against.