Pens Pre-Game #5: Penguins vs. Canucks- Sans Schultz & Searching For Consistency
PENS GAME #5: PENGUINS VS. CANUCKS
Pittsburgh Penguins (2-1-1) vs. Vancouver Canucks (3-2) at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA at 7PM (EST)
PENS BULLET POINTS
MATCH-UP INFORMATIONAL BREAKDOWN
Casey DeSmith: 27-years-old, 1 year NHL Veteran, Undrafted (2018-19: 1W-0L-0T-1OTL, Career: 7W-4L-0T-2OTL)
Anders Nilsson: 28-years-old, 6 year NHL veteran, 2009 Round 3 Draft Pick (2018-19: 2W-0L-0T-0OTL, Career: 38W-46L-0T-12-OTL)
Penguins: 5 Points, Metropolitan Division- 4th, Eastern Conference- 9th
Canucks: 6 Points, Pacific Division- 3rd, Western Conference- 5th
Goals- #1-Kessel (4), #2-Letang (3), #3-Guentzel (3)
Assists- #1-Malkin (7), #2-Crosby/Schultz (4), #3-Kessel/Letang/Sprong(3)
Points- #1-Malkin (8), #2-Kessel (7), #3-Letang (6)
Shots- #1-Hornqvist (13), #2-Letang/Guentzel (12), #3-Kessel/Crosby (9)
Goals- #1-Pettersson (5), #2-Horvat (3), #3-Baertschi/Virtanen (2)
Assists- #1-Elder (5), #2-Pettersson/Baertschi/Eriksson (3), #3-Goldobin/Boeser/ Tanev(2)
Points- #1-Pettersson (8), #2-Baertschi (5), #3-Elder (5)
Shots- #1-Pettersson (13), #2-Horvat/Boeser (12), #3-Elder/Goldobin/ Granlund(11)
-Penguins vs. Canucks History-
Season Series vs. Canucks: First game, 0-0
All-Time Record vs. Canucks: 65W-39L-11T-1OTL in 116 GP
All-Time Record vs Canucks at PPG Paints Arena: 3W-3L-0T-0OTL in 6 GP
Last Season Record vs. Canucks: 0-2 (With 4 Goals For, 9 Goals Against)
PENS TALKING POINTS
KEY TOPICS RELATED TO THIS GAME
Should'a Not Could'a
THIS IS A GAME THE PENS SHOULD WIN
The Penguins are the superior team in talent on ice tonight. Even with losing Justin Schultz after he sustained a broken leg during a hit against Montreal. And even with the defense still trying to find a configuration that works for 60 full minutes. Pittsburgh's talent is simply greater and Vancouver is in a particularly weak position right now (which I'll expand on below). Meaning the Pens must pounce.
Capitalizing on this opportunity to get a quick win at home before jetting off for the grueling and long road trip to the Western Canadian Provinces should be a priority for the Penguins. They essentially currently sit at .500, with 2 wins and 2 losses (one via overtime, however). They need a good confidence boosting victory in the wake of being so hot and cold in their first 4 games. That boost is especially needed now to energize their morale after losing Schultz for such a long time period.
VANCOUVER IS REELING FROM PLAYER LOSS
The Canucks will be without their rookie sensation Elias Pettersson (you're gonna wanna learn that name now, folks!) due to injury from a nasty hit by Panther Mike Matheson in their last game. Young Pettersson had 5 goals in his very first 5 NHL games before he was concussed by Matheson targeting his green-ness, in what surely gave Pens fans flashbacks to Sid and Malkin's younger days and the beatings they took. Pettersson actually lead the Canucks in multiple markers: goals, points, and shots, as listed above. So they'll be without their most productive player against the Penguins.
Vancouver is also missing their "big" off-season acquisition, former Cap Jay Beagle, as well as goalie Thatcher Demko, and RW Derek Dorsett due to injuries. (Antoine Roussel has also wrestled with a concussion, but appears projected to play at this point.)
An of course the biggest loss the Canucks are attempting to recover from this year is the retirement of the Sedin Twins at the end of last season. There presences are so synonymous with the organization it's going to a while before the team finds an entirely new, separate identity without them. Trying to cover Sidney Crosby, in particular, will be a whole new challenge without the twins who did that duty very well for over a decade.
3 Leaders Lighting The Way
KESSEL, LETANG, & MALKIN LEADING THE PENGUINS
Going into the 5th game of the season stats are starting to pile up enough we can point to some early trends. The biggest trend to begin this season for the Penguins is that there are 3 players standing out and leading the charge in a big way. Those players are Phil Kessel, Kris Letang, and Evgeni Malkin. And at least 2 of those 3, the 2 former, are going to piss a lot of naysayers off. Kris Letang and Phil Kessel are bringing it and are bringing it in convincing fashion. Leaving their contributions to the Pens unquestionable despite the negativity they continue to face with some of their ill-informed fan base and even some newspaper sports writers.
Phil Kessel is the team goal leader with 4 and is also averaging a 1 goal a game overall. He's #1 on team in goals (4), #2 on team in points (7), #3 (tied) in shots (9), #1 in +/- (+2), #4 in shots (9), #1 in shooting % (44.4%). 2 of "The Phils" goals have come on the power play, 1 was a game winner. Pure production.
Evgeni Malkin is rather quietly and steadily going about work as the top point producer on the team, turning into a play-making machine this year. Forget his superb finishing power, he's become a sauce artist. Putting up 8 points in just 4 games and primarily by means of assists in which he has 7. He leads the Penguins in assists to match the points lead plus 1 goal, 2 power play points, and is a +1. And perhaps the ridiculous of all, Malkin is currently playing at a 2 points per game pace.
Finally, Kris Letang has returned to true form. He has 3 goals and 3 assists, equally excelling in finishing and play-making. Those numbers make him 2nd in goals and tie him at 3rd in assists for the Pens. He additionally accounts for 1 PPG and 1 GWG. And Letang also is tied for 2nd in shots with 12, behind only the snake-bitten Patric Hornqvist.
EXTRA MISC. THOUGHTS & INFO
*Roster Movements: Tristan Jarry has been demoted back to WBS, apparently dealing with a nagging injury which means he won't be our savior in net right now. While Derek Grant and Jeff Taylor were recalled. Grant as extra reserve skater on the upcoming road trip, Taylor most likely just to fill cap room as Justin Schultz goes on Long-Term Injure Reserve. But Taylor is an interesting defensive prospect who might work his way into the line-up at some point during the year.
*The WBS Penguins remain undefeated! The AHL side won their game on Saturday, making them 3-0 in 2018-19. Their next game is tomorrow at 7:05 vs. the Hershey Bears. You can listen to the game broadcast at WBSPenguins.com or watch the game streamed online if you subscribe to AHL TV.
*And remember to head over to the @PensReport Twitter for in-game Tweets tonight and every game night. Fall hockey really is never better then when shared with hockey Twitter friends.
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