Pens Pre-Game #17: Penguins vs. Lightning- Pens Need A Jolt From Playing The Bolts
PENS GAME #: PENGUINS VS. LIGHTNING
Carl Hagelin is gone- traded to the Kings. Tanner Pearson was sent from LA to PA in return. Sidney Crosby is out for a week with an upper body injury. Matt Murray is back between the pipes. A lot has happened in just a little bit of time for the Penguins. And now as chaser to all that change, the Eastern Conference leading Lightning are in town for a game. Pittsburgh Penguins (7-6-3) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (12-5-1) at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA PM (EST)
And just like that Carl Hagelin is a Los Angeles King. Tanner Pearson the newest Penguin. The changes GM Jim Rutherford had warned of have begun, and the first to see themselves shipped out of town is a 2 time Stanley Cup winner. Proving just how serious the Pens ownership remains about what this franchise remains about- winning it all now. They'll stop at nothing to pursue that directive.
First up for the new look Pens is the Lightning. And Pittsburgh is already deep in a hole before the game even starts. That is beside their current 1-5-1 skid. The team has lost Captain Sidney Crosby, their singular driving force during this run of bad games, to an upper-body injury.
It was likely sustained during the New Jersey game, on the controversial Guentzel goal during which Crosby was challenged for making contact with the goalie. That contact wasn't the key injury incident on the play, it was afterward when Crosby's continued momentum (and the little shove he received from a Devil) caused him to wipe out into the corner boards, going backwards, back-first. The Penguins have already shot down talk this is concussion related, and indeed replays of the sequence seem to confirm that. From this look, it appears in my view, that Crosby leaned an arm out into the boards to absorb some of the contact. And he might be dealing with some kind of shoulder or elbow injury from it. See the video, particularly the additional 3rd and 4th slow replays at this link for yourself- HERE.
With Crosby out the Penguins might be in for a very difficult night. Tampa is leading the East, and the 2nd best team in the league. As their stats indicate the Lightning are especially so good because their talent is spread out very evenly among their roster. Numerous players, on multiple lines remain tied with one another as their team leaders in points, goals, and assists. It's total team parity. A very strong balanced team. The only edge the Penguins have to grasp for is their back-up will start. He's not a particularly strong goalie, but will that tiny crack in the door be enough of an opening for the struggling Pens to take advantage of?
And what about those Pens? With Crosby out Evgeni Malkin is now the most important Penguin. But that's not exactly good news. Malkin's offense has dropped off a cliff. He has 1 assist and nothing else in his last 5 games. He's registering mostly 1 SOG per game in that same time. And his last goal was November 1st vs. NYI. He October reign of terror is long over. Right when Pittsburgh is going to need him most desperately.
The Pens are one tough spot. They're best hope might be that the addition of Tanner Pearson to the team and the minor-leaguers called in relief can energize the overall roster from the mere excitement of change. But that's a very poor game plan to have to rely on against a team as dangerous as Tampa.
Let's look at the details in depth... PENS BULLET POINTS MATCH-UP INFORMATIONAL BREAKDOWN -Goalie Match-Up- Matt Murray: 24-years-old, 6'4"/178lb, 3 year NHL Veteran, 2012 Round 3 Draft Pick (Records- 2018-19: 4W-4L-1OTL in 9GP; Career: 72W-30L-9OTL in 118GP | Goals Against Average- 2018-19: 3.87; Last Season: 2.92; Career: 2.68) VS. Louis Domingue: 26-years-old, 6'3"/210lb, 4 year NHL Veteran, 2010 Round 5 Draft Pick (Records- 2018-19: 3W-2L-0OTL in 5GP; Last Season: 7W-9L-1OTL in 19GP; Career: 37W-46L-8OTL in 101GP | Goals Against Average- 2018-19: 3.43; Last Season: 3.41; Career: 3.01) -Team Face-Off- Current Standings: Penguins: 15 Points, Metropolitan Division- 7th, Eastern Conference- 14th Lightning: 25 Points, Atlantic Division-1st, Eastern Conference- 1st Current Streaks: Penguins: 1 Loss Lightning: 2 Losses Goals For & Against: Penguins: Goals For- 53; Goals Against- 51 Lightning: Goals For- 64; Goals Against- 50 Home vs. Away Records: Penguins Home Record: 3-4-1 Lightning Away Record: 5-2-1 Team Physical Averages: Penguins: Average Size- 6'1"/199lbs, Average Age- 28.04 Lightning: Average Size- 6'1"/197lbs, Average Age- 26.12 Team Alumni: Penguins Alumni for TBL: Ast. Coach Todd Richards (WBS Penguins) Lightning Alumni for PIT: Ast. Coach Mark Recchi, Head Coach Mike Sullivan Local Players: Penguins TBL Locals: None Lightning PIT Locals: J.T. Miller (of E. Palestine, OH) -Team Leaders- Penguins: -Goals- #1-Crosby/Kessel (8), #2-Malkin (7), #3-Guentzel (6) -Assists- #1-Malkin (14), #2-Crosby/Kessel (11), #3-Letang (8) -Points- #1-Malkin (21), #2-Crosby/Kessel (19), #3-Guentzel/Letang (12) -Shots- #1-Letang (50), #2-Crosby/Kessel (47), #3-Hornqvist (46) Lightning: -Goals- #1-Point (9), #2-Kucherov/Gourde (7), #3-Stamkos/Johnson (6) -Assists- #1-Kucherov/Gourde/McDonagh (11), #2-Point (10), #3-Stamkos/Miller (9) -Points- #1-Point (19), #2-Kucherov/Gourde (18), #3-Stamkos (15) -Shots- #1-Stamkos (59), #2-Kucherov (44), #3-Point (43) -Penguins vs. Lightning History- Cup Count: Pens- 5, Lightning- 1 Season Series vs. Lightning: 0-0, First Game Last Season Series vs. Lightning: 1W-2L (With 10 Goals For, 14 Goals Against) All-Time Record vs. Lightning: 49W-33L-5T-5OTL in 92GP All-Time Record of Lightning at PPG Paints Arena: W-L-OTL in GP FINISHING FACTS FINAL NOTES ON THE GAME -Penguins Roster Moves: Carl Hagelin (F) has been traded to LAK, in return for Tanner Pearson (F). Matt Murray will start tonight's game over Casey DeSmith. Derek Grant has been recalled from the minors and will return to roster with Sidney Crosby out due to injury.
-The newest Penguin, Tanner Pearson will wear #14 with the team. That number has been unoccupied for over a year, vacate in the wake of the exit of Pens' legend Chris Kunitz.
-The Penguins can get their 50th all-time over the Lightning tonight.
-A key man for the Lightning is also out, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy due to injury. Back-up Domingue is in net as mentioned.
PENS P.S. EXTRA MISC. THOUGHTS & INFO *Congrats to Evgeni Malkin on reaching 800 NHL games played on Tuesday vs. New Jersey.
*Tonight marks the debut of the Penguins new gold third jersey, which you'll also be aware of through our social media graphics in-game.
*I hope you're enjoying our newly redesigned site! Remember, to let me hear your thoughts on the roll out.
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