Multiple injured players return to practice ahead of the trek to Ottawa.
Although coming off the heels of a much-needed overtime victory against Anaheim on Monday there’s no bigger buzz than practice at this moment for the Penguins. Yes, we're talking about practice! The Penguins got the best news all year on Tuesday as the majority of their lengthy injured list finally participated in regular practice with the rest of the team.
The familiar faces included Kris Letang, Tristan Jarry, Jeff Petry, Ryan Poehling, and Josh Archibald. Their long-awaited returns to on-ice activities have eclipsed interest in the current game schedule. And that's even with the upcoming home-and-home series with the Senators on Wednesday & Friday.
A lot of updates on each ailing player's status followed their practice appearances and are summarized below:
-Kris Letang rejoined the team and practiced with them for about 30 minutes on Tuesday after a long individual workout. He traveled with the team to Ottawa and on Wednesday he skated on an injured pairing with Jeff Petry. He has a lower-body injury and remains in a non-contact jersey. The Penguins have already ruled him out for the game against the Senators.
-Tristan Jarry finally joined regular practice on Tuesday for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury on January 2nd in the Winter Classic and also made the trip to Canada where he continues to skate. He seems unlikely to play but is inching closer to a return as he's now taking full-speed shots from the main roster. Penguins' announcer Josh Getzoff has some video of that beautiful sight for sore eyes:
-Jeff Petry & Ryan Poehling both rejoined team practice in full-contact jerseys on Tuesday but took a step back to non-contact colors at the gameday skate. Neither man participated in line rushes so their status to play looks questionable.
-Josh Archibald returned from a lower-body injury on Tuesday and wore a non-contact jersey. He made the trip with the team but did not end up taking part in the gameday skate.
-Jan Rutta was absent from practice after missing Monday's game. He reportedly has an upper-body injury and is designated as day-to-day and did not travel to Ottawa with the team. Rutta's injury along with Kris Letang and Jeff Petry makes three regular defensemen sidelined for the Pens.
The roster for Wednesday sounds contingent on how these players continue to progress in the game-day skate. Head coach Mike Sullivan said he will make decisions on who is healthy enough to return accordingly.
Oh yeah, and there's that small hockey get-together vs. the Senators this evening when the team finally puts all this rehearsing into actual practical use with two critical points on the line. Dive into that game's info below!
Pens Game #44: Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators
Date: January 18, 2023
Time: 7 PM (ET)
Place: Ottawa, ON
Venue: Canadian Tire Centre
Broadcasts: Local- ATTSN, National- ESPN+
Records- PIT: 22-15-6, OTT: 19-21-3
Last 10- PIT: 3-6-1, OTT: 5-5-0
Streaks- PIT: 1 Win, OTT: 2 Losses
Standings- PIT: 17th, OTT: 25th
Points- PIT: 50, OTT: 41
‘21/22 Season Series- 2-1 PIT
‘21/22 Series Goals For- PIT: 11, OTT: 10
Team Analytics Comparison:
Projected 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: 6-9-2, 3.10 GAA, .906 SV%
Career vs. OTT: 3-2-1 2.33 GAA, .923 SV%
-CAM TALBOT- #33
Bio Info: 6' 4", 196 lbs. DOB: 7/5/1987 (35). From: Caledonia, ON.
Drafted: Undrafted. Experience: 10th Season.
Record: 10-12-1, 2.86 GAA, .906% SV%
Career vs. PIT: 1-3-4, 3.31 GAA, .902% SV%
The Senators have been a favored opponent for several Penguins in the past. Expected starting goaltender Casey DeSmith has two career shutouts against the Sens. That's his second-best shutout record for any team other than the Buffalo Sabres. Captain Sidney Crosby has a habit of crushing Ottawa on the scoreboard whenever they meet. Sid has 50 points in 43 career games played against the Senators, that's about a 1.16-point-per-game pace. Jake Guentzel is following in his footsteps as he tends to in so many things with 12 points in 10 games played and eight of those points being goals.
With the Pens' injury situation still being very fluid call-ups Jonathan Gruden, Mark Friedman, Taylor Fedun, and Dustin Tokarski all continue to travel with the team.
The Penguins finally closed out a game in overtime against the Ducks on Monday, bringing their OT record for 2022-23 up to 2-6. They desperately needed to begin correcting their inability to secure games past regulation as they're in a battle for every single point since they have to crawl out of the 17th position in the standings.
Also on Monday Pens General Manager Ron Hextall won his 100th game with the team which makes him the fastest GM to reach 100 wins in franchise history. It's an intriguing accolade for such a polarizing Penguins executive whose time with the team has been marked with great criticism. Hextall has had a large share of skepticism ever since his first off-season when he lost both Jared McCann and Brandon Tanev in the event surrounding the 2021 Seattle Expansion Draft. Whether this record-breaking honor turns out to be his peak or an early indication of the heights he can take the team to is still unknown. We'll be watching excitedly as that all plays out.
-Josh Archibald (F): IR, lower body, day-to-day.
-Tristan Jarry (G): IR, lower body, day-to-day.
-Kris Letang (D): IR, lower body, day-to-day (out).
-Jeff Petry (D): LTIR, upper body, day-to-day.
-Ryan Poehling (F): IR, upper body, day-to-day.
-Jan Rutta (D): upper body, day-to-day (out).
The projected Penguins lines for Wednesday, January 18, 2023, at the Ottawa Senators:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Drew O'Connor - Teddy Blueger - Jeff Carter
Brock McGinn - Jonathan Gruden - Kasperi Kapanen
Brian Dumoulin - Ty Smith
Marcus Pettersson - Mark Friedman
P. O. Joseph - Chad Ruhwedel
PP1: Malkin, Crosby, Guentzel, Rakell, Smith
PP2: Carter, Rust, Zucker, Pettersson, Joseph
PK1: Blueger, McGinn, Ruhwedel, Dumoulin
PK2: Carter, Rust, Pettersson, Friedman/Joseph rotating
Ottawa is a deceptively dangerous team. Much like several of the losses on the Penguins' record this season they're filled with speedy, young skaters. They also have the sixth-best power play in the league despite their rocky win-loss record.
The Sens have some usual suspects on their roster this season. Our old friend Claude Giroux now calls Ottawa home instead of Philadelphia. Giroux signed with the Senators after being traded to Florida as a rental to make a playoff run with the Panthers last season. Former Penguin Derrick Brassard is back with the Senators for his second run with the team.
There is over a decade's worth of playoff history between Giroux and Brassard and the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and company. No matter what jersey everyone is wearing so some carryover from tensions in the years past could be in the cards as both teams are in a rough patch and looking for some life.
Former Penguins’ prospect and minor league player Jake Lucchini has also found a home in Ottawa. The forward made his NHL debut with the Sens on December 14th against the Canadiens. Lucchini catching on in Ottawa is an unexpected turn considering his place far down on the depth chart in Pittsburgh's organization.
Key players added: Forwards- Alex DeBrincat, Claude Giroux, Tyler Motte. Goalie- Cam Talbot.
Key players lost: Forward- Connor Brown. Goalie- Matt Murray.
-Rourke Chartier (F): IR, upper-body, undisclosed.
-Mathieu Joseph (F): IR, lower body, day-to-day.
-Tyler Motte (F): IR, finger, week-to-week.
-Josh Norris (F): IR, shoulder, day-to-day.
For The Penguins: Evgeni Malkin. The Pens have had a tough stretch of games recently but Evgeni Malkin has played some of his most impactful hockey of the season during that time. "Geno" continues to provide an emotional spark in low moments for the team so in the last five games he's shown up a lot. Malkin has seven points in that span including two multi-point nights against Vancouver and Anaheim. With two goals and two assists, his night against the Canucks was in fact his best of the season thus far.
For The Senators: Brady Tkachuk. There aren't many Senators on a roll of late so the pickings were slim. But scrappy young captain Brady Tkachuk does have a mini-point streak going with four points in his last six games. It's not much but with his offensive contribution and his infamously colorful on-ice conduct, Brady is always one to watch when playing Ottawa whether he's scoring or not.