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Red Wings vs. Penguins Preview: From Worst To Wings

The Penguins try to move past a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad game.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Bryan Rust vs. Detroit Red Wings
Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images.

Well, that was awful! Last night's game against the Islanders was the worst outing of the year for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They still have two more games this year to attempt to do worse though. That's a real concern after what was one of the poorest efforts in any season in recent memory. Head Coach Mike Sullivan was as blunt about that as possible post-game:

For a visual depiction of that night to forget, here is the Penguins' gamescore card. It really was a dreadful outing. As you can see very clearly everyone but P.O. Joseph forgot to show up on Tuesday (click to expand):

Pittsburgh Penguins Stat Card vs. New York Islanders
Charts by @HockeyStatCards.

Almost every single Penguin was a defensive liability. Their offensive generation was virtually invisible. It's a mess of a picture to sort and they have to try to do so instantly as they're smack in the middle of back-to-back games.

They head home to face Detroit tonight on the national stage on TNT at 7:30 PM (ET). Typically the Penguins would be the heavy favorites but after last night's game in Long Island, typical is out of the window.

The Pens also have to contend with losing another player to injury. Chad Ruhwedel left the Islanders' game and did not return after taking a hard hit in the first period. Ryan Poehling and Josh Archibald have been placed on injured reserve meaning they're out longer than initially thought.

And as it's a back-to-back scenario, that means struggling backup Casey DeSmith takes the net vs. Detroit. DeSmith still has a losing record into December at 4-6-1 and has looked lost in recent games.

There are a lot of complicated issues going on in Penguins' land right now. It just might mean they're in for another rough night vs. the underdog Wings. Detroit is coming into the game right off of their holiday break too so they'll be fully rested and they're a team with young legs. Which has been a sore spot for our beloved but elder statemen Pens this season.

Game Info:

Pens Game #35: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings

Date: December 28, 2022

Time: 7:30 PM (ET)

Place: Pittsburgh, PA

Venue: PPG Paints Arena

Broadcasts: Local- ATTSN, National- TNT

Social Media Hashtags #: #LetsGoPens #LGRW

Team Matchup:

Records- PIT: 19-10-5, DET: 14-11-7

Last 10- PIT: 7-2-1, DET: 3-5-2

Streaks- PIT: 2 Losses, DET: 1 Win

Standings- PIT: 10th, DET: 21st

Points- PIT: 43, DET: 35

‘21/22 Season Series- 2-1 PIT

‘21/22 Series Goals For- PIT: 20, DET: 7

Team Analytics Comparison:

Goalie Matchup:

Projected starting goalies-


[Pittsburgh Penguins]

Bio Info: 6' 0", 181 lbs. DOB: 8/13/1991 (31). From: Rochester, NH.

Drafted: Undrafted; Experience: 5th Season.

Record: 4-6-1, 2.83 GAA, .914 SV%

Career vs. DET: 1-0-1, 1.92 GAA, .930 SV%



[Detroit Red Wings]

Bio Info: 6' 3", 200 lbs. DOB: 2/6/1995 (27). From: Helsinki, Finland.

Drafted: 2014- Rd 4, Pk 94 (STL). Experience: 3rd Season.

Record: 12-6-5, 2.75 GAA, .912 SV%

Career vs. PIT: 0-0-1, 1.85 GAA, .956 SV%

Penguins Update:

Pens injured list, party of four. Add Chad Ruhwedel (D) to the growing names on the injury report for the Penguins. Mark Friedman is likely to be the extra defenseman who'll jump into the lines. Friedman isn't an exact substitution for the defense-first Ruhwedel. He's a hard-hitting, agitating D-man but he'll bring a new flavor and a little fire to the mix which could be useful for the lackadaisical Pens right now. Friedman has one goal and four assists in 19 games in the minor leagues this year.

While on the subject of injuries, forwards Ryan Poehling and Josh Archibald were both moved onto Injured Reserve this afternoon meaning neither is hopping right back into play. The Penguins recalled forward Drake Cagguila and defenseman Ty Smith from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to plug some holes in this increasingly waterlogged ship in response to those IR designations.

Some good news: despite their terrible night, the Penguins have still not conceded a powerplay goal in seven games. The bad news: Chad Ruhwedel's role on the penalty kill was a key component to that streak.

-Injury Report-

-Josh Archibald (F): IR, lower body, day-to-day.

-Ryan Poehling (F): IR, upper body, day-to-day.

-Jeff Petry (D): IR, upper body, out until January.

-Chad Ruhwedel (D): undisclosed.

-Pens Lines-

The projected Penguins lines for Wednesday, December 28, 2022, vs. the Detroit Red Wings:


Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell

Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust

Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Danton Heinen

Danton Heinen - Teddy Blueger - Drew O’Connor


Marcus Pettersson - Kris Letang

Brian Dumoulin - Jan Rutta

P. O. Joseph - Mark Friedman

(Special Teams)

PP1: Malkin, Crosby, Guentzel, Rakell, Letang

PP2: Carter, Rust, Heinen, Kapanen, Joseph

*PK Units TBD

Red Wings Update:

While this is the first meeting of these teams in 2022-23, their goal differential from last season is notable. The Penguins outscored the Wings 20 to 7 in three games. It's nearly a 3:1 ratio. And while Detroit has upgraded their goaltending, the Penguins' shooters remain much the same but bolstered by the trade addition of Rickard Rakell.

Familiar faces abound for Detroit: former two-time Cup-winning Penguin Olli Maatta, 2016 Cup winner Oskar Sundqvist, and fellow alumnus David Perron are key players for the Wings. It's reunion night 2022!

-Offseason Update-

Key players added: Forwards- Andrew Copp, Dominik Kubalik, David Perron. Defensemen- Ben Chiarot, Olli Maatta. Goalie- Ville Husso.

Key players lost: Defensman- Marc Staal, Goalies- Thomas Greiss, Calvin Pickard.

New coach: Derek Lalonde.

-Injury Report-

-Mark Pysyk (D): LTIR, achilles, out for 2022/23.

-Jakub Vrana (F): IR, personal, out indefinitely.

-Robert Hagg (D): IR, undisclosed, out until 12/28.

-Robby Fabbri (F): IR, knee, out until January.

-Tyler Bertuzzi (F): IR, wrist surgery, out until January.

-Filip Zadina (F): IR, lower body, out until January.

For The Penguins: Sidney Crosby. When things are tough for the Penguins' there's one person they can always turn to and that's the "Wizard of Croz". Sid finds a way to elevate his game in high-pressure moments and he'll be the one to lead any rebound efforts vs. the Red Wings. He's the Pens' points, assists, and goals leader. He also has five points in the last five games. Look for Sid to get them over this slump.

For The Red Wings: David Perron. An old friend turned a new foe. David Perron never did quite find his fit in Pittsburgh but he's shining in "Rock City". Perron stands second in team points for Detroit. He's coming into this game off of a three-point outing vs. Tampa Bay, a group that's very similar to the Pens. And Perron has five points in just the last three games alone. You know he'd love to score against his old club too.


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