The January 2024 Penguins Planner sees Brian Dumoulin & Casey DeSmith return to Pittsburgh for the first time since their departures and the Pens visit Pittsburgh's Logan Cooley out west.
The first two weeks of 2024 are jam-packed with rivalry games to kick off the year. The turning of the calendar also begins a challenging stretch in the Penguins' itinerary for the season.
WEEK ONE- JANUARY 1-7, 2024:
Week One Rivals
The Pittsburgh Penguins kick off the year on Tuesday, January 2nd, against their top rivals of the era, the Washington Capitals, at home. This exclusive streaming game on ESPN+ and Hulu begins at 7:30 PM (ET).
Following that, they travel to Boston on the 4th to face the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins on Thursday in a nationally televised ESPN showcase game at 7 PM (ET). It’s the first time these teams meet this season. The Bruins are once again a formidable foe with a record of 22-7-6 in 2023-24 making this a benchmark game for Pittsburgh to test themselves against. The Penguins are also seeking redemption for last year's early January loss to Boston in the 2023 Winter Classic.
The first Saturday of the month brings them back to PPG Paints Arena for their third clash against the Buffalo Sabres on January 6th at 7:30 PM (ET) on Sportsnet Pittsburgh, while the rest of the US can tune in on ESPN+. With each team having a win in their 2023-24 series, this matchup determines the season-set winner. The Penguins might have a little extra luck in this one as it’s Sidney Crosby bobblehead night at the arena.
WEEK TWO- JANUARY 8-14, 2024:
The Battle Of PA
Week two writes another chapter in The Battle of Pennsylvania against cross-state archenemies, the Philadelphia Flyers, on January 8th. This game is in hostile territory in Philadelphia and kicks off at 7:00 PM (ET) on Sportsnet Pittsburgh locally and on NHL Network nationally. The Flyers are in command of the series this season at 2-0, expect a strong statement game from the Penguins in return against their biggest rivals.
DeSmith's Debut In Pittsburgh as a Canuck
After a brief rest, the Penguins welcome back several familiar faces as the Vancouver Canucks come to town. Vancouver, essentially the "Penguins West," features several Penguins alumni in key roles. Canucks President Jim Rutherford, GM Patrik Allvin, Head Coach Rick Tocchet, assistant coach Mike Yeo, and defensive development coach Sergei Gonchar are all former Penguins staff. They're joined by on-ice veterans Casey DeSmith, Teddy Blueger, Ian Cole, and Sam Lafferty. That's five former 2016 and 2017 back-to-back Stanley Cup-winning Penguins and two of the 2009 Cup team for those keeping count. Vancouver's visit will also be the first time returning to Pittsburgh for former goalie Casey DeSmith after he was traded last summer. This meeting on January 10th at 7:00 PM (ET) on Sportsnet Pittsburgh and ESPN+ is not only reunion night but also the Hockey Talks Mental Health Awareness Game and a third jersey game.
Powerplays vs. Penalty Kills
Pittsburgh heads to Carolina for a single road game on January 13th at 7 PM (ET) against the Hurricanes. It's another Sportsnet Pittsburgh and ESPN+ broadcast night on TV. The season series is currently tied at one win each, and this matchup promises a close contest between the Hurricanes and the Penguins, especially on special teams. Carolina is ranked 5th best in the league on the powerplay. They'll match that unit against Pittsburgh's 9th-ranked penalty kill.
WEEK THREE- JANUARY 15-21, 2024:
The Return of Dumoulin
Two-time Stanley Cup Champion and ten-year veteran Penguin Brian Dumoulin returns to Pittsburgh for the first time since leaving the team as a free agent last summer when the Seattle Kraken visit on Monday, January 15th. Expect a significant salute to the former defensive anchor for his years of service. Dumoulin brings along a host of other Penguins veterans with Seattle including Jared McCann, Brandon Tanev, Jamie Oleksiak, and fellow two-time Penguins Cup Champion Justin Schultz. The game starts at 6 PM (ET) on Sportsnet Pittsburgh in the city and ESPN+ everywhere else in the country.
Western Road Trip: Desert Edition
After four days off, the Penguins embark on their second Western road trip of the year. First, they face the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday, January 20, 2024, at 10 PM (ET) on Sportsnet Pittsburgh and ESPN+. Then, they travel to Arizona to play Pittsburgh-native Logan Cooley and the Arizona Coyotes in Tempe at Arizona State at 9 PM (ET), also on Sportsnet Pittsburgh/ESPN+.
Two-Game Home Stand Conclusion
January concludes with a back-to-back home stand in Pittsburgh. On Saturday, the 26th, the Florida Panthers will be visiting for a rematch after a close contest earlier this season where the Penguins were done in by their powerplay woes. Both Florida and the Penguins are on a similar performance trajectory in 2023-24, setting the stage for another tight battle. The two teams are closely ranked in key aspects like penalty kill percentage (Panthers at 8th, Penguins at 9th), goals for per game (Panthers at 22nd, Penguins at 21st), and goals against per game (Panthers at 3rd, Penguins at 6th). Their first encounter in December reflected their similar strengths, with the game tied until well into the third period before Florida secured a 3-1 victory. Finally, the Penguins will have a rematch with the Montreal Canadiens for the first time since their epic 12-round shootout, which Pittsburgh won 4-3 back in December. The Canadiens are set to visit on Sunday, January 27th, to conclude the month. Both of these final weekend games will take place at 7 PM (ET) and will be broadcast locally on Sportsnet Pittsburgh and nationally on ESPN+.
Pittsburgh gets some downtime in the final week of the month as the All-Star break begins on the 28th ahead of the 2024 game in Toronto on February 3rd. We should get an idea of which Penguins might be getting All-Star honors as the final weeks of January unfold. Penguins points leaders Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby are strong candidates to appear.
January 2024 promises excitement for the Penguins, with numerous rivalry games, a pair of highly anticipated player returns, and a Western Road Trip on the agenda. The team faces a busy schedule of 11 games against many competitive opponents in the first month of the year as they continue to strive for a Stanley Cup Playoff bid.
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Owen Robinson is the founder, manager, and lead writer for Pens Report. A resident of Pittsburgh's East End, he’s covered the Penguins as a reporter and photographer for various major outlets since 2010, including through two Stanley Cup seasons. In his spare time, he enjoys classic film, concerts, photography, Mac Miller, and hanging out with a good cat. You can follow him on Twitter @itsowenrobinson