Penguins at Avalanche Preview: Uphill Climb
The Pens ride their four-game losing streak into the path of an Avalanche.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have dropped four games in a row and are playing at their worst performance levels of the season just in time to face a Colorado Avalanche team on a seven-game win streak.
The Avs are on a heater. The Pens couldn't be colder. It's a tale of two polar opposite teams.
After losing on Monday to the Senators the Pens have fallen out of a playoff position too:
Looking ahead to Colorado, the Penguins are just over 50/50 at Ball Arena in their last 10 games played there vs the Avalanche at 6-4-0.
This game will be a major uphill battle on a snowy, Avalanche-filled cliffside. At a time when Every game from here on out is going to be a fight for the Pens' playoff lives as they try to scrape back into postseason positioning.
Tonight's particular battle will be broadcast in front of a national audience on TNT with puck drop scheduled for 8 PM.
Pens Game #71: Pittsburgh Penguins at Colorado Avalanche
Date: March 22, 2023
Time: 8 PM (ET)
Place: Denver, CO
Venue: Ball Arena
Social Media Hashtags #: #LetsGoPens #GoAvsGo
National Broadcast: TNT
Canadian Broadcast: SN, TVAS
Online Stream: ESPN+
Penguins Radio: 105.9 The X/Penguins Radio Network
Avalanche Radio: Altitude SportsRadio
Records- PIT: 34-26-10, COL: 41-22-6
Last 10- PIT: 4-5-1, COL: 7-2-1
Streaks- PIT: 4 Losses, COL: 6 Wins
Standings- PIT: 17th, COL: 10th
Points- PIT: 78, COL: 88
PIT: Eastern Conference #9, 1 point out of 2nd Wildcard playoff spot.
COL: Western Conference #4, 2nd Central Division playoff spot.
Season Series- 1-0 PIT
Series Goals For- PIT: 2 (Rust, Letang), COL: 1 (MacKinnon)
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: 20-10-6, 3.01 GAA, .907 SV%
Career vs. COL: 0-4-0, 3.58 GAA, .884 SV%
-Alexandar Georgiev- #40
Bio Info: 6' 1", 178 lbs. DOB: 2/10/1996 (27). From: Ruse, Bulgaria.
Drafted: Undrafted. Experience: 6th Season.
Record: 32-14-5, 2.53 GAA, .920 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 3-3-1, 4.20 GAA, .883 SV%
P.O. Joseph and Mark Friedman were the defensemen added to the Pens' PK units in place of Marcus Pettersson, and Kris Letang. Letang was taken off the PK presumably due to the increased minutes he's facing with fellow top six defensemen Pettersson and Jeff Petry out injured.
Sidelined defenseman Jeff Petry skated individually after Pens practice on Tuesday. A timetable for his return is still unknown.
Milestone Watch: Sidney Crosby is one goal shy of 30. When he hits it that will make his 11th season of 30 or more goals. It's a feat that only 19 other players in NHL history have managed to achieve. Crosby will also tie Mario Lemieux for the most 30-plus goal seasons in team history with the next one.
Bryan Rust meanwhile is two points away from hitting 40 points on the season, which would be his fourth straight 40 point session.
-Nick Bonino (F): LTIR, lacerated kidney, out until 4/4.
-Dmitry Kulikov (D): LTIR, lower body, out until 4/6.
-Jeff Petry (D): upper body, undisclosed.
-Marcus Pettersson (D): LTIR, lower body, week-to-week.
-Jan Rutta (D): lower body, week-to-week.
The projected Penguins lines for Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at the Colorado Avalanche:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Ryan Poehling- Mikael Granlund
Drew O’Connor - Jeff Carter - Josh Archibald
P.O. Joseph - Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin - Chad Ruhwedel
Mark Friedman - Taylor Fedun
PP1: Letang, Malkin, Crosby, Rakell, Guentzel
PP2: Joseph, Zucker, Rust, Granlund, Carter
PK1: Poehling, Rust, Dumoulin, Ruhwedel
PK2: Granlund, Archibald, Friedman, Joseph
This is the first meeting between these teams since the controversial blindside hit by the Penguins' Jeff Center on Av's franchise defenseman Cale Makar. Makar sustained a concussion in that and was sidelined for much of late February and early March due to the blow. Carter received no supplementary discipline in a move that was widely decried around the league. The possibility for some carryover from that incident remains for tonight's game. Makar has dealt with a string of injuries since that hit and missed the Avs' last game with a lower-body problem.
Former Penguin Evan Rodrigues (F) is sidelined for the Avalanche as well after being concussed in their game on Monday. Colorado currently only has 11 forwards on their team so they will likely need to make an emergency player recall today to fill a full roster for this game. They have the ability to do so freely without cap implications because as you can see below, they're dealing with significant injury issues overall.
-Pavel Francouz (G): lower body, out indefinitely.
-Darren Helm (F): IR, lower body, day-to-day.
-Erik Johnson (D): IR, ankle, day-to-day.
-Gabriel Landeskog (F): LTIR, knee, out for 2022-23.
-Artturi Lehkonen (F): broken finger, 4-6 weeks.
-Cale Makar (D): lower body, day-to-day.
-Josh Manson (D): lower body, out until April.
-Evan Rodrigues (F): concussion, day-to-day.
For The Penguins: Rickard Rakell. "Ricky Raks" has been the only Penguin consistently scoring of late. He's registered three goals in the last five games including the lone marker against Ottawa. Overall he has five points in the last five games played. Rakell has proven to be one Pen the team can count on in these rough times.
For The Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon. Nate is still being great out in the Mile High City. Sidney Crosby's protege is doing his mentor proud by currently riding a nine-game point streak. He's posted 10 points in the last five games alone. MacKinnon also scored the only goal for Colorado in the first meeting between these teams this year so be prepared to see Macca be problematic for the Penguins once again.