Penguins at Devils Preview: Divisional Showdown
The Penguins get back to business in Jersey after the returns of Jeff Petry and Tristan Jarry.
It's amazing what the infusion of a healthy Jeff Petry and Tristan Jarry did for the Penguins against the Senators on Friday. The words "total transformation" come to mind. Pittsburgh defeated Ottawa in convincing fashion by a score of 4-1. The team finally looked competent for a full 60 minutes for the first time since their early December seven-game win streak. Jarry had one of his most commanding nights of the year in net. He confidently made 44 saves, held the Sens scoreless on the power play, and registered a .978 save percentage. Jeff Petry had an impactful return as well. He scored an assist, had four shots, and six hits while producing the fourth-best game score of any Penguin. It was a night of two triumphant returns.
The team's performance vs. the Senators is an enticing taste of what's to come as more talent comes back from being sidelined due to injury. But before the Pens can think about their roster returning to full health they have a crucial Metropolitan Division matchup against fellow playoff contenders the New Jersey Devils.
Jersey, who sit in fourth place in the standings, defeated the Penguins once this season in the final game of 2022 on December 30th. That night was one of the low points of the Pens' year as they struggled to keep pace with the Devils' speed and looked out of sync as a group. The Christmas break derailed the team's play to such an extreme they're still trying to correct their course in response to the damage done in the weeks after. That rocky spell also caused them to plummet down to 15th place in the standings while they continue to jockey for position with six Metro foes, New Jersey included, for four divisional playoff spots.
On the other side of the ice, the Devils' young stars have finally produced the long-anticipated results that have been forecasted throughout their matriculation. Jack Hughes is a legitimate superstar. He sits in the top ten in scoring and goals. Nico Hischier ranks in the top 25 in goals and top 45 scorers. Jesper Bratt makes both the goals and points list in the top 45 too. And defensemen Dougie Hamilton even appears in the top 45 in assists for all skaters. Goalie Vitek Vanecek has become a top-ten netminder this season to round out the group as positionally sound on all fronts.
These aren't the eternally damned Devils of old that the Penguins can steamroll like they have long been used to doing. Their speed and star-studded roster are a significant challenge and one that the elder statesmen Pens may have difficulty with unless they can continue the patterns they established in their victory over Ottawa.
Sunday's game is a matinee matchup so remember that puck drop is at 2 PM (ET). Check out the rest of today's game info and notes that await beneath:
Pens Game #46: Pittsburgh Penguins at New Jersey Devils
Date: January 22, 2023
Time: 2 PM (ET)
Place: Newark, NJ
Venue: Prudential Center
Broadcasts: Local- ATTSN, National- NHLN
Social Media Hashtags #: #LetsGoPens #NJDevils
Records- PIT: 23-15-7, NJD: 29-12-4
Last 10- PIT: 4-5-1, NJD: 7-1-2
Streaks- PIT: 1 Win, NJD: 1 Loss
Standings- PIT: 15th, NJD: 4th
Points- PIT: 53, NJD: 62
Season Series- 1-0 NJD
Series Goals For- PIT: 2, NJD: 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: 16-5-4, 2.68 GAA, .921 SV%
Career vs. NJD: 6-4-1, 2.94 GAA, .907 SV%
-VITEK VANECEK- #41
[New Jersey Devils]
Bio Info: 6' 0", 165 lbs. DOB: 1/9/1996 (27). From: Havlickuv Brod, Czechia.
Drafted: 2014- Rd 2, Pk 39 (WSH). Experience: 3rd Season.
Record: 18-5-2, 2.37 GAA, .914 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 4-1-3, 2.94 GAA, .903 SV%
Jake Guentzel had a three-point (2G, 1A) night against the Senators. It was his second three-point outing of the season with the last one coming back on November 17th vs. Minnesota. Guentzel has 14 multi-point games in 2022-23 overall. He also hit the 20-goal mark on Friday for the sixth time in his career and only 45 games into the year.
There are a few milestones pending to be on the watch for tonight. Bryan Rust is one point away from reaching 30 for the season. He'd be the fifth Penguin to hit that marker in 2022-23 along with Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin, Rickard Rakell, & Jason Zucker. When he hits that milestone it will be Rust's seventh consecutive 30-plus point season. Jeff Carter is one point away from hitting 20 this season. He has never missed that point mark in his career in any year where he's been healthy enough to play at least 20 games, going back to his rookie season in 2005-2006. That's 17 total 20-point seasons in all.
The Penguins went 0 for 9 on the power play in their last game vs. the Devils, even giving up one short-handed goal. That likely decided the contest in New Jersey's favor. Luckily for them, they got back into the business of producing some power play goals on Friday. Jeff Petry's addition to the top unit was the transformational catalyst that finally got the Penguins out of their funk.
Some practice updates for the injured Pens: Josh Archibald (lower body) took full-contact practice on Saturday for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury in mid-December. Ryan Poehling (upper body) also took full practice and is traveling with the team to New Jersey. He's a game-time decision to play. Kris Letang (lower body) practiced with the team, even slotting in on the power play, but was not cleared to take contact. Jan Rutta (upper body) skated separately before practice. Finally, Kasperi Kapanen (lower body) did not skate at all. The Penguins' revealed his injury will not require surgery but only "rest and rehab". Letang, Archibald, Rutta, and Kapanen will not travel to the game against the Devils.
Call-ups Taylor Fedun & Dustin Tokarski were reassigned to the AHL after Jeff Petry and Tristan Jarry finally returned to play against Ottawa. The other fill-in troops, Jonathan Gruden, Drew O’Connor, Mark Friedman, & Ty Smith all remain with the Penguins.
-Josh Archibald (F): lower body, day-to-day/out vs. NJD.
-Kris Letang (D): LTIR, lower body, day-to-day/out vs. NJD.
-Kasperi Kapanen (F): lower body, week-to-week/out vs. NJD.
-Ryan Poehling (F): upper body, game-time decision.
-Jan Rutta (D): upper body, day-to-day/out vs. NJD.
The projected Penguins lines for Sunday, January 22, 2023 at the New Jersey Devils:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Brock McGinn - Teddy Blueger- Jeff Carter
Drew O'Connor - Jonathan Gruden/Ryan Poehling - Danton Heinen
Marcus Pettersson - Jeff Petry
Brian Dumoulin - Mark Friedman
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
Scouting the last meeting of these teams, Jack Hughes and Dougie Hamilton each had six shots on goal in the first meeting of the season and two-point games to go with that generation. They are both serious threats against the Pens who'll loom large on Sunday.
It seems defenseman John Marino will have to wait once again to play the Penguins, the team that traded him for prospect Ty Smith last summer. Marino is still sidelined by the upper body injury that took him out of the first game against the Pens in December.
-2022-23 Team Leaders vs. Penguins-
Goals: Jack Hughes- 2.
Assists: Dawson Mercer- 2.
Points: Dougie Hamilton, Jack Hughes, Dawson Mercer- 2.
Plus/Minus: Dawson Mercer- +2.
PIM: Erik Haula- 4.
Shots: Dougie Hamilton, Jack Hughes- 6.
Hits: Kevin Bahl, Nikita Okhotiuk- 4.
Blocks: Brendan Smith- 4.
Takeaways: Erik Haula, Jack Hughes- 2.
Faceoff%: Jack Hughes- 75%.
-John Marino (D): IR, upper body, day-to-day.
-Jonathan Bernier (G): LTIR, hip surgery, out indefinitely.
For The Penguins: The Second Line. Take your pick because you can’t go wrong with any of these players who are working together like a well-oiled machine. Jason Zucker, Evgeni Malkin, and Rickard Rakell are a three-ring show for the Penguins over the last handful of games. In the last three games alone the line has combined for a total of 7 goals and 17 points. Zucker leads those individual efforts with three goals and four assists
For The Devils: Jack Hughes. Beyond his spot on the NHL's top ten points and goal scorers lists Jack Hughes is on a particularly strong recent streak of play. He's currently having a four-game point streak during which he's put up seven points total. Hughes also has points in nine of his last ten games played. And he leads the Devils in points and goals for the year.