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Predators vs. Penguins Preview: Predators Or Prey?

The Pens continue to inconsistent hold dual identities while battling for a playoff spot.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin vs. Nashville Predators
Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images.

What do you do with a team that looks dominant against the league's best, but struggles to bag the easy wins? Welcome to the problem of the 2022-23 Pittsburgh Penguins.


The Pens had difficulties against yet another "gimme" opponent vs. Detroit on Tuesday losing by a score of 7-4. That included allowing a third-period hat trick by David Perron. All that after putting together a strong rebound effort last week by taking down the defending Cup champ Avalanche, pushing the contending Dallas Stars to their limit, and trouncing the Caps at home.


The Penguins are maddeningly inconsistent and can't seem to decide whether their team identity is as predators or prey during this playoff race. This brings them to tonight's opponent the Nashville Predators.


The Predators are newly refreshed by several major trade moves, including shipping Mikael Granlund to the Pens, and are also gunning to get themselves into the post-season. They'll show up strong for Thursday's game as they're currently sitting outside a playoff position but immediately within striking distance. They need two points to capture the second Western Conference wildcard spot which is precisely what they'll earn if they can get a regulation victory over the Penguins. The Pens facing a solid team that can nab themselves a playoff spot by beating them.


The question is: which version of the Pittsburgh Penguins will show up for tonight's game? The league-leading slayers or the disjointed crew that was downed by Detroit?


Either way, they're running out of time to carve out their true identity as playoff factors or change up their rep as flakey pretenders as only eight regular season games remain.


Game Info:

Pens Game #75: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Nashville Predators

Date: March 30, 2023

Time: 7 PM (ET)

Place: Pittsburgh, PA

Venue: PPG Paints Arena

Social Media Hashtags #: #LetsGoPens #Smashville


Broadcast Info:

Penguins Broadcast: AT&T Sportsnet

Predators Broadcast: BSSO

Online Stream: ESPN+

Penguins Radio: 105.9 The X/Penguins Radio Network

Predators Radio: WPRT-FM


Team Matchup:

Records- PIT: 36-28-10, NSH: 37-28-8

Last 10- PIT: 4-6-0, NSH: 5-4-1

Streaks- PIT: 1 Loss, NSH: 1 Win

Standings- PIT: 18th, NSH: 17th

Points- PIT: 82, NSH: 82

Playoff Positions-

PIT: Eastern Conference #8, 2nd Eastern Wildcard spot.

NSH: Western Conference #10, 2 points out of 2nd Western Wildcard spot.

Season Series- 1-0 PIT

Series Goals For- PIT: 3 (Crosby, Zucker, Rust), NSH: 1 (Jankowski)


Team Analytics Comparison:

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Nashville Predators analytics chart
Analytics by JFresh Hockey.

Goalie Matchup:

Projected starting goalies:

-Tristan Jarry- #35

[Pittsburgh Penguins]

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: 21-10-6, 2.98 GAA, .908 SV%

Career vs. NSH: 2-0-1, 2.28 GAA, .918 SV%

🆚

-Juuse Saros- #74

[Nashville Predators]

Bio Info: 5' 11", 180 lbs. DOB: 4/19/1995 (27). From: Forssa, Finland.

Drafted: 2013: Rd 4, Pk 99 (NSH). Experience: 7th Season.

Record: 29-20-7, 2.77 GAA, .916 SV%

Career vs. PIT: 2-2-0, 2.70 GAA, .921 SV%


Penguins Update:

The Penguins are 5-1-0 in their last six games at home against the Predators so home ice advantage is firmly in their favor.


Coach Mike Sullivan has swapped the top defensive pairs after the calamity against the Red Wings. Brian Dumoulin has been elevated to the first line with Kris Letang and P.O. Joseph place on the second pair with Jeff Petry.


Speaking of Jeff Petry, he returned to the lineup on Tuesday from another extended period out due to injury and produced an assist and three shots in his comeback game.

NEXT UP: This three-game homestand continues with a potentially heavy beatdown by the #1 ranked Bruins on Saturday followed by a Sunday matinee edition of the Battle of PA against the Flyers. The Flyers meeting is expected to be Kris Letang’s big 1,000th NHL game.


-Injury Report-

-Nick Bonino (F): LTIR, lacerated kidney, out until 4/4.

-Dmitry Kulikov (D): LTIR, lower body, out until 4/6.

-Marcus Pettersson (D): LTIR, lower body, week-to-week.

-Jan Rutta (D): lower body, week-to-week


-Pens Lines-

The projected Penguins lines for Thursday, March 30, 2023, vs. the Nashville Predators:


(Forwards)

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell

Danton Heinen - Ryan Poehling - Mikael Granlund

Drew O’Connor - Jeff Carter - Josh Archibald


(Defense)

Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang

P.O. Joseph - Jeff Petry

Mark Friedman - Chad Ruhwedel


(Special Teams)

PP1: Letang, Malkin, Crosby, Rakell, Guentzel

PP2: Joseph, Zucker, Rust, Granlund, Carter

PK1: Poehling, Rust, Dumoulin, Petry

PK2: Granlund, Archibald, Ruhwedel, Letang


Predators Update:

Nashville is lacking nearly all of their big-name players right now: Matt Duchene, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen are injured. While Nino Niederreider and Mattias Ekholm were traded away at the deadline.


Missing so much star power hasn't slowed the Predators down a bit. They beat the NHL's #1 team Boston Bruins in Boston on Tuesday, 2-1. It was a rare occasion as it was just the fourth home loss of the entire season for the Bruins. Preds goalie Juuse Saros only allowed one goal on 36 shots in that win.


-Trade Deadline Movements-

Key players added: Forward- Rasmus Asplund, Isaac Ratcliffe. Defensemen- Tyson Barrie, Cal Foote.

Key players lost: Forward- Mikael Granlund (to the Pens), Tanner Jeannot, Nino Niederreiter. Defensemen- Mattias Ekholm.

-Injury Report-

-Mark Borowiecki (D): IR, upper body, out indefinitely.

-Alexandre Carrier (D): upper body, 4-6 weeks.

-Matt Duchene (F): hand, week-to-week.

-Filip Forsberg (F): IR, upper body, day-to-day.

-Ryan Johansen (F): leg surgery, out until late April.

-Roman Josi (D): undisclosed, day-to-day.

-Juuso Parssinen (F): upper body, out indefinitely.


For The Penguins: Jake Guentzel. Guentzel scored after being our Pen to watch last game, so why stop now? That goal extended his point streak to four games, with five points total, three of those being goals. Guentz' is getting going at just the right time of year and when the Penguins need him most: in the playoff home stretch.

For The Predators: Tyson Barrie. This is an all-Penguins family “Ones To Watch”, with the son of the former Pen Len Barrie, Tyson, as our selection for Nashville. The recent trade import from the Edmonton Oilers just had a four-game goal streak broken up in the Preds' last outing against Boston on Tuesday. Barrie had six points in that recent span. He seems to be adjusting to his new home in Nashville nicely.


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