Trouble looms on the horizon for the wayward Penguins.
There's not much to love about the Pittsburgh Penguins this Valentine's Day. The Hollywood lights were far too bright for them on Saturday night. The team lost in La La Land in a poorly scripted dramedy. The themes of the night were melodrama for the fans at home mixed with absurdist humor for just how comedically inept the Penguins were. And the Kings easily played the conquerers by a score of 6-0 in a frustratingly one-sided affair. The night was capped by four unanswered goals from LA's Adrian Kempe. It was a career night for him, but a reality check moment for the Pens on how much work the team has to resemble a contender.
Performance issues in all facets of the game are a concern for the Penguins. Their powerplay remains stagnant and went 0 for 5 in LA. The penalty kill, which was once one of their strongest attributes, has sunk like a stone from the fourth-best unit in the league to 12th in just about a month. Neither special teams area appear to be getting any attention from the coaching staff nor any line changes.
The Pens have now packed up their woes to travel to Northern California to face the San Jose Sharks, a team that defeated Pittsburgh as a heavy underdog just before the All-Star break on January 28th. That loss should have been their gut-check point but the Penguins have continued to fluctuate wildly since then. A win that gets a little retribution for the first loss to the Sharks would help improve both their on-ice fortunes and their tight standings spot.
Pens Game #53: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks
Date: February 14, 2023
Time: 10:30 PM (ET)
Place: San Jose, CA
Venue: SAP Center
Penguins Broadcast: AT&T Sportsnet
Sharks Broadcast: NBC Sports California
Online Stream: ESPN+
Penguins Radio: 105.9 The X/Penguins Radio Network
Sharks Radio: Sharks + SAPC App
Records- PIT: 26-17-9, SJS: 17-26-11
Last 10- PIT: 5-2-3, SJS: 4-3-3
Streaks- PIT: 1 Loss, SJS: 1 Win
Standings- PIT: 14th, SJS: 28th
Points- PIT: 61, SJS: 45
Season Series- 1-0 SJS
Series Goals For- PIT: 6, SJS:4
Team Analytics Comparison:
Confirmed 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: 9-11-4, 3.30 GAA, .903 SV%
Career vs. SJS: 1-3-0, 4.08 GAA, .874 SV%
-AARON DELL- #30
[San Jose Sharks]
Bio Info: 6' 0", 210 lbs. DOB: 5/4/1989 (33). From: Airdrie, AB.
Drafted: Undrafted. Experience: 7th Season.
Record: 0-2-0, 3.00 GAA, .908 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 2-2-0, 3.09 GAA, .902 SV%
Along with the Pens' loss, Sidney Crosby's eight-game point streak came to end against Los Angeles. It was Crosby's longest scoring streak of the season.
More damage from the last tilt: defenseman Mark Friedman was apparently injured vs. LA and now has an upper body injury. There is no further information on his outlook or timeline with the team still on the road but he has not skated since sustaining the ailment on Saturday. Chad Ruhwedel should be expected to slot right back into his old lineup spot that Friedman recently took from him.
-Mark Friedman (D): upper body, undisclosed.
-Tristan Jarry (G): upper body, day-to-day.
-Jan Rutta (D): LTIR, upper body, day-to-day.
The projected Penguins lines for Tuesday, February 14, 2023, at the San Jose Sharks:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Ryan Poehling - Teddy Blueger - Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson - Jeff Petry
P. O. Joseph - Chad Ruhwedel
PP1: Malkin, Crosby, Guentzel, Rakell, Letang
PP2: Carter, Rust, Zucker, Kapanen, Petry
PK1: Carter/Poehling, Rust, Dumoulin, Petry
PK2: Blueger, McGinn, Ruhwedel, Pettersson
San Jose comes into this game after a 4-1 win over the Capitals on Sunday. This is relevant not just for some opponent scouting but because the Penguins are a very similar team to the Caps. Both groups have older core members, are toiling around mid-standings, and have had very inconsistent seasons. You also might recall the Sharks also just beat the Pens in a stunning 6-4 win before the All-Star break. They still seem to have the ability to play spoiler to opponents that are superior on paper.
The Sharks' top two goalies, James Reimer and Kaapo Kahkonen, are sidelined for Tuesday due to illness and injury respectively. It's a huge opening for the Penguins to face their third-string goalie Aaron Dell right when the Pens need to rebound from a tough game against Los Angeles.
-Luke Kunin (F): ACL surgery, out for 2022-23.
-Kaapo Kahkonen (G): undisclosed, day-to-day.
-James Reimer (G): illness, day-to-day.
-Radim Simek (D): IR, upper body, undisclosed.
For The Penguins: Evgeni Malkin. Since the Penguins didn't crack the scoreboard on Saturday Evgeni Malkin still remains our one to watch. "Geno" has seven points in his last five games. He also had four shot attempts in the blowout loss to the Kings, which is as decent an output as any Penguin managed to produce in such poor game circumstances.
For The Sharks: Erik Karlsson. One of the biggest names on the NHL's trade market, Karlsson is producing at the perfect time to attract a new team. He's on a four-game point streak where he's produced nine points, including three goals. Three of those four games have been multi-point nights. Karlsson's hot streak is colliding with the Pens at a very inopportune time for the black and gold.