Panthers vs. Penguins Preview: Wildcards
Fresh off of more OT woes, the Pens face the team seeking the same wildcard spot.
Overtime has become quite the puzzle for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They dropped their second OT game in a week against the Devils on Sunday. Making their season OT record a dismaying 2-8 overall. They simply can't close out wins beyond regulation. It's a vital issue when it appears the season is going to come down to the wire and every single point left on the table will count.
As they try to sort out those problems, the Florida Panthers are on the prowl for the playoff spot the Penguins' are tenuously grasping. The 16th-place Pens are just three points (54) ahead of the Panthers (51) in the second Eastern Conference wildcard spot. The Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders also sit at 51 points and are nipping at Pittsburgh's heels.
The Pens desperately need to gain more ground on these teams quickly. That starts with facing Florida on Tuesday at home. The Penguins have defeated the Panthers once already in 2022-23 so they know the way to victory. And the South Florida team is missing their number one goalie Sergei Bobrovsky due to injury. The path to winning is lit, the follow-through is now up to the Pens alone.
Pens Game #47: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Florida Panthers
Date: January 24, 2023
Time: 7 PM (ET)
Place: Pittsburgh, PA
Venue: PPG Paints Arena
Broadcasts: Local- ATTSN, National- ESPN+
Social Media Hashtags #: #LetsGoPens #TimeToHunt
Records- PIT: 23-15-8, FLA: 23-21-5
Last 10- PIT: 4-4-2, FLA: 6-3-1
Streaks- PIT: 1 Loss, FLA: 1 Loss
Standings- PIT: 16th, FLA: 19th
Points- PIT: 54, FLA: 51
Season Series- 1-0 PIT
Series Goals For- PIT: 4, FLA: 2
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: 16-5-5, 2.65 GAA, .921 SV%
Career vs. FLA: 3-2-0, 3.09 GAA, .909 SV%
-SPENCER KNIGHT- #30
Bio Info: 6' 3", 192 lbs. DOB: 4/19/2001 (21). From: Darien, CT.
Drafted: 2019: Rd 1, Pk 13 (FLA). Experience: 2nd Season.
Record: 9-7-3, 3.05 GAA, .906 SV%
Career vs. PIT: Debut
The Pens' had their fourth-lowest shots-against tally of the season on Sunday at 25. They still couldn't make it count with a regulation win. This is more evidence of how the Penguins can control and still fail to close out.
Sunday was also the Pens' third overtime game in the last week and second OT loss. The extra minutes of these games are starting to add up on the oldest team in the league. They've already gone to overtime on ten occasions this year. That matches up exactly with the number of times they went passed regulation to OT or shootouts last season to this point. The concern there is of course the Penguins ultimately ended their season as the statistical favorites over the New York Rangers in Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a Game Seven overtime loss. This is an elemental issue for this team that's proven to have to have the greatest cost for them imaginable: closing yet another year of their contending window. Fixing this problem should be of tremendous concern for the Penguins.
Jeff Petry's return to play has been a smashing success. He's ranked in the top five game scores of both Penguins' games since his comeback from an injury that held him out for over a month. Petry was the second-best performing Pen vs. New Jersey with a gamescore of 1.12. And the fifth best vs. Ottawa at a 1.06 gamescore. (Gamescores via Hockey Stat Cards.) He has an assist and 4 shots in each game in about 25:00 ice time.
In potential return news, Kris Letang (lower body) and Josh Archibald (lower body) took full practice earlier today. Letang was also slotted into the line rushes ahead of the matchup with Florida.
Not yet ready to go on the other hand is Kasperi Kapanen (lower body), who only skated for the first time since being injured before the morning skate on Tuesday. But it's good to see another Penguin return to the ice at least.
-Josh Archibald (F): LTIR, lower body, day-to-day.
-Kris Letang (D): LTIR, lower body, day-to-day.
-Kasperi Kapanen (F): lower body, week-to-week.
-Jan Rutta (D): upper body, day-to-day.
The projected Penguins lines for Tuesday, January 24, 2023, vs. the Florida Panthers:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Brock McGinn - Teddy Blueger- Jeff Carter
Drew O'Connor - Ryan Poehling - Danton Heinen
Kris Letang - Brian Dumoulin
Marcus Pettersson - Jeff Petry
P. O. Joseph - Chad Ruhwedel
PP1: Malkin, Crosby, Guentzel, Rakell, Petry
PP2: Carter, Rust, Zucker, Heinen, Joseph
PK1: Carter, Rust, Dumoulin, Ruhwedel
PK2: Blueger, McGinn, Pettersson, Friedman
This is the second game of a back-to-back set for the Panthers. They were defeated by the New York Rangers 6-2 last night and lost forward Sam Bennett to injury in the course of the game. Bennett has already been ruled out for Tuesday’s game against the Pens.
-Sam Bennett (F): upper body, undisclosed.
-Sergei Bobrovsky (G): lower body, day-to-day
-Anthony Duclair (F): achilles, week-to-week.
-Patric Hornqvist (F): IR, upper body, week-to-week.
-Eric Staal (F): upper body, undisclosed.
For The Penguins: Sidney Crosby. Once again the honor goes to "The Wizard of Croz". Sid's on a four-game point streak. He's scored six total points in that time period. Crosby had a three-point night against Ottawa alone and scored a crucial goal vs. New Jersey last game. The Penguins have a lot of structural problems right now that continue to rear their heads but Sidney Crosby is still right as rain.
For The Panthers: Sam Reinhart. Reinhart just ended a seven-game point streak against New York where he accumulated 10 points altogether. He also had one of the two goals the Panthers scored against the Penguins in their meeting earlier this season.