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Pens Pre-Game #9: Penguins at Canucks- The Big Bad Black & Gold Is Back

Sunday, October 28, 2018

PENS GAME #9: PENGUINS AT CANUCKS

 

Just when you thought the Penguins simply couldn’t top their colossal overtime winning goal in Edmonton, they put on a decades-best performance for the record books in Calgary. And now they’re preparing to face Vancouver and will tear into town on one giant wave of momentum exhibiting the type of dominant play that hearkens back to their best days as the “Big, Bad Black And Gold Machine” during their back-to-back Cup winning seasons. The Canucks and the rest of the NHL better take warning and buckle up.

Pittsburgh Penguins (5-1-2) at Vancouver Canucks (6-5) at Rogers Arena, in Vancouver, BC at 10PM (EST)

Whoa, baby, did the Pens ever step it up against the Calgary Flames last game!? It was a whopper of a night that ended in an emphatic 9-1 victory. Pittsburgh wrapped up that game with new pages of “bests” added to the team history books. (Which will be listed in more depth below.) Now they’re looking for a encore and a little revenge vs. the Canucks, a team that already beat the Penguins once earlier this year in overtime. But the Pens were playing at a dramatically different and inferior level back then. It’s like they’re an entirely new team today. So we’ve got a whole new game on our hands against Vancouver this time around.

The Pens have some extra incentive in this game as well. They’re looking to keep a 3 game win-streak alive and make it a clean sweep by going without a loss on their Canadian road trip for a perfect 4-0 with a win tonight.

On to the game details....

 

PENS BULLET POINTS
MATCH-UP INFORMATIONAL BREAKDOWN


-Goalie Match-Up-
Casey DeSmith: 27-years-old, 6’0”/181lb, 1 year NHL Veteran, Undrafted (Records- 2018-19 vs. Canucks: 0W-0L-1OTL in 1GP; 2018-19: 1W-0L-2OTL in 3GP; Career: 7W-4L-3OTL in 17GP | Goals Against Average- 2018-19: 2.58, Last Season: 2.40; Career: 2.44)
VS.
Jacob Markstrom: 28-years-old, 6’6”/206lb, 8 year NHL Veteran, 2008 Round 2 Draft Pick (Records- 2018-19 vs. Pens: 1st Game, 0W-0L; 2018-19 Overall: 3W-2L-0OTL in 5GP; Career: 62W-81L-19OTL in 174GP | Goals Against Average- 2018-19: 2.93; Last Season: 2.71; Career: 2.84)

-Team Face-Off-
Current Standings:

Penguins: 12 Points, Metropolitan Division- 2nd, Eastern Conference- 5th
Canucks: 12 Points, Pacific Division- 2nd, Western Conference- 7th

Current Streaks:
Penguins: 3 Wins
Canucks: 1 Loss
Goals For & Against:
Penguins: Goals For- 35; Goals Against- 26
Canucks: Goals For- 31; Goals Against- 35
Home vs. Away Records:
Penguins Away Record: 3W-0L-1OTL
Canucks Home Record: 2W-1L-0OTL
Team Alumni:
Penguins Alumni for VAN: Derrick Pouliot, Brandon Sutter, Ast. Coach Nolan Baumgartner  
Canucks Alumni for PIT: Head Coach Mike Sullivan
Local Players:
Penguins VAN Locals: Derek Grant, Justin Schultz (IR), A.C. Mark Recchi  
Canucks PIT Locals: None
Team Physical Averages:
Penguins: Average Size- 6'1"/199lbs, Average Age- 28.04  
Canucks: Average Size- 6'1"/200lbs, Average Age- 25.93

-Team Leaders-
Penguins:

-Goals- #1-Kessel (6), #2-Guentzel (5), #3-Letang/Hornqvist (4)
-Assists- #1-Malkin (12), #2-Letang/Crosby (7), #3-Kessel (6)
-Points- #1-Malkin (15), #2-Kessel (12), #3- Letang (11)
-Shots- #1-Letang (25), #2-Hornqvist (24), #3-Guentzel (21)

 

Canucks:
-Goals- #1-Horvat (7), #2-Pettersson (5), #3-Baertschi/Sutter (3)
-Assists- #1-Elder (5), #2-Boeser/Stecher/Eriksson (4), #3-Petterson/Baertschi/ Tanev/Schaller (3)
-Points- #1-Horvat (9), #2-Pettersson (8), #3-Baertschi/Boeser (6)
-Shots- #1-Horvat (27), #2-Boeser/Elder/Goldobin (21), #3-Virtanen (18)

 

PENS TALKING POINTS

KEY TOPICS RELATED TO THIS GAME


Pens Perfect As Is
STEADY AS IT GOES

Not much needs changed at all with the Penguins right now. As we saw in Calgary they've found the optimal line-up formula. All the questioning critics, myself included were silenced by their performance. They're firing on all cylinders from the changes and didn't have a single hitch in their game that needs addressed. They just have to keep it up.

While Vancouver isn't quite the same "pushovers" Calgary was, the things the Pens did in that game are universal for success against any opponent. They kept their offense pressuring hard, with shots coming from everywhere, all up and down the lines. Every line kept up offensive zone attacks wave-on-wave which just made for an overwhelming tide that couldn't be stemmed. When Calgary did get their chances, the Pens D stay steady and in formation. They made great plays to shut down breakouts and shuffle the puck out of danger. And the goaltending was tremendous when the occasions popped that couldn't be shut-down by the skaters out front.

One Pens Problem
SOME LINE-UP SHAKE-UP

The only issue at play for the Penguins however is a few involuntary roster changes, unfortunately. That's the way fate goes in hockey. Derick Brassard has been forced out of the line-up due to a lower-body injury. It's an on-going, nagging issue that apparently has been bothering him for several games now per head coach Mike Sullivan. With Brassard out it appears Pens' top young forward prospect Daniel Sprong is heading back on to the roster. Can he step up and jump into this offense-palooza the Pens have suddenly burst into? Given his particular high caliber goal scoring skill set and speed, Sprong certainly appears a good bet to fit in to that style.

Additionally, Casey DeSmith will get the start in net tonight in place of Matt Murray. This move also seems forced by circumstances. Murray got an incredibly hard work-out in the last two games and has played 3 straight for the Pens including this entire long away trip. And this is all right after returning from a concussion sustained in the opening week of the season. With the Penguins' humming overall this is definitely a convenient point to rest him. However DeSmith was in net for the Pens prior loss to the Canucks earlier in October.

According to the morning skate practice lines, as reported by @PensInsideScoop on Twitter, these 2 line-up changes will make the Pens lines look like this:

Guentzel-Crosby-Rust
Hagelin-Malkin-Kessel
Sheahan-Cullen-Hornqvist
Simon-Grant-Sprong


Dumoulin-Letang
Maatta-Oleksiak
Johnson-Ruhwedel

DeSmith
(Murray)

{Scratches- Brassard, Riikola}

FINISHING FACTS
FINAL NOTES ON THE GAME  

-The Pens have still not lost on the road in regulation, that marker is now at 3-0-1.
-They also remain with 1 regulation loss at all on the year.
-Pittsburgh is now 7-1 in their last 8 games vs. Western Conference teams. As well as 9-3 in their last 12 road games.
(-Notable facts for Pens after their win vs. Calgary-)
-The 9-1 win over Calgary is now the Penguins' largest margin of victory over the team.
-The prior largest margin of victory against the Flames was a 7-1 win in Pittsburgh on December 19, 1995. A game, in fact, in which current Pens coach Mike Sullivan actually played for the Flames.
-The win against Calgary marks the Pens' best road start since 2014-15 when they went 5-0-1.
-The Penguins also handed the Flames their worst loss at home 2 decades, 21 years to be exact. The last worst lost than Thursday for Calgary was 10-1 to the Oilers back on November 26, 1996.
-Pittsburgh also matched their record for largest margin of victory in a road game (8 goals) in their last win. The other time such a margin occurred was at San Jose on December 5, 1991 (8-0) and once again at San Jose on November 10, 1995 (9-1).
-Mike Sullivan has now tied Michel Therrien for 3rd place on the Penguins Coaches all-time wins list with 135. He can break the tie and move into a clear 3rd with a "W" tonight.
-Additionally, GM Jim Rutherford has tied Baz Bastien for 3rd most all-time wins by a Penguins General Manager with 193. He too has a tie-breaker chance tonight.
-The Pens now lead the NHL in goals per game with 4.38 after their 9-goal night in Calgary.

PENS P.S.
EXTRA MISC. THOUGHTS & INFO

*Congrats to Phil Kessel on playing his 700th consecutive NHL game vs. Calgary. (That guy totally doesn't care and doesn't make an effort, eh, Toronto media?!)
*WBS Pens beat the Hershey Bears 4-1 at home yesterday. They'll be in action again tonight facing the Bears in Hershey for the second half of a home-and-home series.

Finally, a personal note. While I'm good at talking hockey, hockey, and more hockey, this stuff is just superfluous to real life issues. Real life like tragedy hitting home here in Pittsburgh.

 

And today, and for a long time to come, there is only really one thing on my mind, Squirrel Hill. I just wanted to say we love you, stand with you, and are mourning as well in this terrible time. We swear to our Jewish neighbors, we refuse to let the bigots win. We're here for you and stand together as one.

For more from Pens Report be sure to follow us on social media too! On Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram.

 

Have any questions? Suggestions? News tips? For those and any other inquiries you can get in touch with Pens Report by email at pensreport@yahoo.com

 

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