PENS GAME #6: PENGUINS AT MAPLE LEAFS
Big excitement comes to the biggest city in Canada tonight as reigning best player in the world Sidney Crosby and his Penguins take on a top contender for the future best player in the world title in 3rd year pro Auston Matthews and his Maple Leafs.
Pittsburgh Penguins (2-1-2) at Toronto Maple Leafs (6-1) at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario at 7PM (EST)
It’s always a rare treat when generational talents like Sid and the Matthews kid can cross paths like this. And this is just the 6th ever meeting between the two. As such, the “Hockey Capital Of The World” is sure to be buzzing with hype especially as their new look Leafs get a chance to really prove they’re the real deal against recent back-to-back Cup champions in the Penguins.
Toronto is on a 5 game win streak and have only dropped one game at all this season. While the visiting Penguins are starting their year out struggling. They’re on a 2-game losing streak and now have a losing record for the first time this year at 2-1-2. 3 of their 5 games have been forced to go to OT, 2 of those 3 OTs lost, and thus they have only managed to earn 1 win in regulation.
All is not well in the house of Lemieux.
Now here's what's going on, going into this game....
PENS BULLET POINTS
MATCH-UP INFORMATIONAL BREAKDOWN
Matt Murray: 24-years-old, 3 year NHL Veteran, 2012 Round 3 Draft Pick (Records- 2018-19: 1W-1L-0OTL in 2GP, Career: 69W-29L-8OTL in 107GP | Goals Against Average- 2018-19: 5.45, Last Season: 2.92)
Frederik Andersen: 29-years-old, 5 year NHL veteran, 2012 Round 3 Draft Pick (Records- 2018-19: 4W-1L-0OTL in 5GP, Career: 152W-64L-31OTL in 262GP | Goals Against Average- 2018-19: 3.02, Last Season: 2.81)
Penguins: 6 Points, Metropolitan Division- 4th, Eastern Conference- 9th
Maple Leafs: 12 Points, Atlantic Division- 1st, Eastern Conference- 1st
Goals- #1-Kessel/Guentzel (4), #2-Letang (3), #3-6 way tie (1)
Assists- #1-Malkin (8), #2-Kessel/Crosby/Schultz (4), #3-Letang/Sprong (3)
Points- #1-Malkin (9), #2-Kessel (8), #3-Letang (6)
Shots- #1-Letang (16), #2-Guentzel (15), #3-Hornqvist (14)
Goals- #1-Matthews (10), #2-Tavares (6), #3-Marner/Kapanen (4)
Assists- #1-Reilly (10), #2-Marner (7), #3-Matthews (6)
Points- #1-Matthews (16), #2-Reilly (13), #3-Tavares/Marner (11)
Shots- #1-Tavares (28), #2-Reilly (23), #3-Matthews (22)
-Penguins vs. Maple Leafs History-
Season Series vs. Maple Leafs: First game, 0-0
Last Season Series vs. Maple Leafs: 1-2 (With 10 Goals For, 12 Goals Against)
All-Time Record vs. Maple Leafs: 84W-74L-17T-7OTL in 182GP
All-Time Record at Scotiabank Arena: 14W-13L-0T-5OTL in 32GP
PENS TALKING POINTS
KEY TOPICS RELATED TO THIS GAME
Decommit From DeSmith
TIME TO MOVE TO MURRAY
After 3 inexcusable, elementary goaltending mistakes which gave up goals in the last loss against Montreal the Penguins' are finally seeing the light on Casey DeSmith. That he's not NHL back-up caliber, let alone a starter. DeSmith was abysmal vs. the Habs in such definitive ways it couldn't be ignored or deflected more onto the poor play out in front of him by the rest of the team, and it has gotten him booted from net. DeSmith looked like a high school goalie playing his very first game on Tuesday. He had no composure and no strong basic mechanics to fall back on. He repeatedly flopped down onto the ice flat on his stomach or back in a scramble, when it wasn't necessary at all or way too early in the play sequence. That mistake was converted into 2 goals by Montreal. He also repeated his prior game habit of not gluing himself to the the side post when play went to the corners, resulting a near-miss goal chance as well. Then after the Pens somehow managed to battle their way back and push the Canadiens into OT. DeSmith completely stalled on the final scoring chance. He didn't even see the play happening and certainly couldn't get in position to attempt to make a save under that level of awareness. The Habs had the game won before Casey even knew where the puck Brock Boeser shot was.
Let's hope this early season mistake in net is all for the best though. The Pens have learned this experiment doesn't work and will now go on from here knowing not to put him in crucial games and situations. Or, better still, knowing they have got to go get a replacement and adequate back for Murray as the long season winds on.
And speaking of Matt Murray he, thankfully, returns to the net as the Pens starter tonight against Toronto. His first game back since being out with a concussion for about a week. Murray needs to get back into his starting role and back into playing a more steady and confident game, so this Leafs game is a big one for him. Toronto's the best team in the East. They will be no small task to guard net against.
However, the playing field in net will be even. Toronto starter Frederik Andersen is in the exact same personal situation, as he is also returning from injury tonight. Anderson missed the Leaf's last game with a knee injury, something to watch out for on the Penguins side. As that kind of injury is more directly related to the tasks of goaltending, and possibly affecting Anderson's mobility and reaction times, thus any lingering physical issues there could be an advantage for the Pens.
Sidney Off The Snide
SID NEEDS TO SHOW UP NOW
In case you somehow didn't know, it's true. Sidney Crosby is goalless. He's yet to score on the season through 5 games. He has 4 assists of course, but there's something just plain wrong to see his box on the stats page empty for goals. That box is lonely. And Pens fans surely have to be sad from missing their Crosby goal fix. The Penguins, too, always play better when Sid is on the goal sheet.
It's clear by all accounts the thing this wayward team needs most right now is none other than a huge Sidney Crosby goal.
Just one and one alone, and as the Crosby tales of old have proven, that'll be all it take for the Penguins to find new life. Sid just has to keep shooting and perhaps be a bit more stingy with those assists dishes and he'll get one eventually.
He may just do so tonight vs. the Maple Leafs. As Crosby has a history of big success against the team. He's put up 26 goals in 40 games played in his career against them. That is a little over a 2 goals per game a pace obviously. And we all know Sidney Crosby lives to play against top tier talent. He thrives on it in a special way. And as astounding as it is to say, top tier talent now is in full time residence in Toronto! It's not just Auston Matthews but old Isles' rival John Tavares there too. So keep a close eye on Sidney Crosby tonight.
The Mighty Maple Leafs
PENS NEED TO SOLVE NHL'S TOP TEAM
The Penguins work is cut out for them tonight. As the Maple Leafs are off to one of their best starts in the last decade plus. The Leafs are leading their Division, the Conference, and the League standings. They've only been bested once all season. And they currently have 33 goals in just 7 games played. They're the tallest order the Penguins have faced this season thus far, even taller than the reigning champion Capitals.
Toronto is not just dominating, they're dominating from all over the roster. Their breadth of talent is not concentrated in simply Matthew/Tavares. Guys like Morgan Reilly, Mitch Marner, and even former prized Penguins' prospect Kasperi Kapanen are putting up numbers in just as high as caliber. It's a remarkable parity that can't help but remind of the multi-weaponed Pens when they're at their best and not in their current funk. A meeting of these 2 teams at their top performing times would be a phenomenal game or set of games for the ages. The possibility of which just makes any hockey fan sit back and drool. Should they meet in the playoffs in the future- FIREWORKS.
EXTRA MISC. THOUGHTS & INFO
*March To A Milestone: 2 things to watch against Toronto in the career milestone department. Kris Letang is 1 goal away from hitting 100 Career Goals. And Matt Murray is 1 win away from his 70th Career Win.
*With his goal last game Jake Guentzel has now moved into the tied lead with Phil Kessel as the Penguins top goal scorer, with 4Gs on the year.
*The streak has ended. The WBS Penguins had their 1st loss of the season last night. Losing to the Cleveland Monsters and busting up their nice little opening run of going 3-0. A mini-streak only but it was especially important to see as they're coming off losing long-time captain Tom Kostpolous to retirement in the off-season. Which was a huge change for the organization, one they've navigated very successful it appears.
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