Pens Pre-Game #18: Penguins at Senators- Storm Clouds Stay Overhead
PENS GAME #18: PENGUINS VS. SENATORS
The storm clouds continue to loom overhead for the Pens, as they're now last place in the Eastern Conference. They've lost 7 of their last 8 games. Sidney Crosby is out due to injury. There are few signs of team cohesion. And they dropped another loss to Tampa on Thursday night, their 2nd in a row. Now they head north to Ottawa to face the Senators without much left to lose.
Pittsburgh Penguins (8-8-3) at Ottawa Senators (9-7-3) at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario at 7PM (EST)
Only 2 teams in the league remain worse in the than the Penguins right now, the Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings. The Pens are fighting for their season but lack any further depths to sink to in their conference. So will this rock bottom finally be enough to get them playing like there's no tomorrow? If this can't kick them into gear, nothing will.
Tonight's game against the Senators takes on a lot of importance in that regard. It will either be part of a comeback or part of the problem. The choice is up to the men on the ice.
Some of those men have already begun to rise up.
As evident by Patric Hornqvist's defiant comments post-game on Thursday, "We believe in ourselves and that’s the key. One shift’s going to turn the season around for us, and that’s going to happen in Ottawa in two days.” (Per Penguins PR.) Hornqvist has already put his money where his mouth is on those sentiments. With a 3 point (2G, 1A) game against Tampa. He's also had 1 goal in 2 of the last 3 games.
He's backed up by the recent performance of Phil Kessel, who's on a 3 game point streak and 2 game goal streak. And Jake Guentzel, despite being on a scoring drought has points in 3 of the last 5 games. That includes his first goal in after a 7 game streak of being snake-bitten.
Even Evgeni Malkin, who's spun his wheels for the most part since the calendar turned to November, managed 2 assists vs. Tampa and 1 assist vs. New Jersey.
There's are either the starting sparks of the Penguins beginning to bite back or the last noble efforts of a team in long-term, multi-month trouble.
That makes these mid and late November games rather impactful to the team's season and something every Pens fan should be keeping a keen eye on.
Now to tonight's details...
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-5L-1OTL in 10GP; Career: 72W-33L-9OTL in 121GP | Goals Against Average- 2018-19: 3.90; Last Season: 2.92; Career: 2.69) VS. Craig Anderson: 37-years-old, 6'2"/185lb, 15 year NHL Veteran, 2001 Round 3 Draft Pick (Records- 2018-19: 8W-5L-3OTL in 17GP; Last Season: 23W-25L-6OTL in 58GP; Career: 269W-212L-2T-64OTL in 581GP | Goals Against Average- 2018-19: 3.53; Last Season: 3.32; Career: 2.78)
-Team Face-Off- Current Standings: Penguins: 17 Points, Metropolitan Division- 8th, Eastern Conference- 16th Senators: 19 Points, Atlantic Division- 6th, Eastern Conference- 12th Current Streaks: Penguins: 2 Losses Senators: 1 Win Goals For & Against: Penguins: Goals For- 56; Goals Against- 55 Senators: Goals For- 64; Goals Against- 77 Home vs. Away Records: Penguins Away Record: 4-2-2 Senators Home Record: 6-3-2 Team Physical Averages: Penguins: Average Size- 6'1"/199lbs, Average Age- 28.04 Senators: Average Size- 6'1"/196lbs, Average Age- 26.52 Team Alumni: Penguins Alumni for OTT: Dev. Coach Shean Donovan Senators Alumni for PIT: Derick Brassard, Matt Cullen, Derek Grant, Ast. Coach Sergei Gonchar, Ast. Coach Jacques Martin Local Players: Penguins OTT Locals: None Senators PIT Locals: None -Team Leaders- Penguins: -Goals- #1-Kessel (9), #2-Crosby (8), #3-Malkin/Hornqvist (7) -Assists- #1-Malkin (16), #2-Kessel (12), #3-Crosby (11) -Points- #1-Malkin (23), #2-Kessel (21), #3- Crosby (19) -Shots- #1-Letang/Hornqvist (51), #2-Kessel (50), #3-Crosby (47) Senators -Goals- #1-Dzingel (9), #2-Stone (7), #3-Duchene/White (6) -Assists- #1-Chabot (17), #2-Duchene (15), #3-Stone/Tierney (14) -Points- #1-Chabot (22), #2-Stone/Duchene (21), #3-Tierney (16) -Shots- #1-Chabot (59), #2-Stone (45), #3-Duchene (53) -Penguins vs. Senators History- Cup Count: Pens- 5, Senators- 0 Season Series vs. Senators: 0-0, First game Last Season Series vs. Senators: 3W-0L (With 13 Goals For, 4 Goals Against) All-Time Record vs. Senators: 55W-31L-9T-5OTL in 100GP All-Time Record of Pens at Canadian Tire Centre: 18W-17L-5T-2OTL in 42GP
[Based on last game lines, practice lines, announced line-up changes]
Pearson | Malkin | Hornqvist
Guentzel | Brassard | Kessel
Simon | Sheahan | Rust
Grant/Sprong | Cullen | Aston-Reese
Johnson | Letang
Dumoulin | Ruhwedel
Maatta | Oleksiak
S: Murray | B: DeSmith
(Scratches: Derek Grant/Daniel Sprong, Juuso Riikola)
FINISHING FACTS FINAL NOTES ON THE GAME -Pens Roster Moves: Derick Brassard is in, Garrett Wilson has been re-assigned to the minors.
-Sidney Crosby will not play tonight, missing his second game with an upper-body injury.
-Sid skated on his own in what was reportedly an intense workout before the team practiced today.
-Derick Brassard will return from injury tonight for the Pens against his prior team the Senators. He has missed 9 games due to injury.
-Brassard will be playing alongside Phil Kessel. (Projected line combos below.)
-Speaking of Phil Kessel, he's on a 3 game mini-scoring streak and he has been steadily increasing his performance output over the last 5 games (starting w. furthest back): 11/5- 2 shots; 11/7- 5 shots; 11/10- 4 shots, 1A; 11/13- 2 shots, 1A, 1G; 11/15- 3 shots, 1A, 1G.
-Evgeni Malkin has gotten a penalty in 5 consecutive games. (His career high penalty streak is 8.)
-The Penguins are 3-13 in their last 16 games against Eastern Conference opponents.
-Senator goalie Craig Anderson can get his 270th career win tonight.
-Anderson, by the way, is 5-10-2 with 2.85 goals-against average all-time vs. the Pens.
-One Senator skater to watch out for: Matt Duchene is on a heck of a hot streak, with 2 goals and 7 assists in his last 5 games.
PENS P.S. EXTRA MISC. THOUGHTS & INFO *Congrats to Kris Letang whose assist on Thursday vs. Tampa Bay gave him his 350th career assist. It also allowed him to jump Syl Apps for sole 6th place on the Pens' All-Time assists list.
*Matt Cullen was fined $1,000 by the league for dangerous trip on J.T. Miller against the Lightning on Thursday.
*Milestones still on the active alert for the Pens:
-Olli Maatta is 2 points from 100 career points.
-And Matt Murray is 1 shutout from overtaking Johan Hedberg as sole #4 on the Pens' All-Time Shutouts list with 8.
*The WBS Penguins went 1W-2L this week. Falling to Providence on Sunday by 5-2. Winning 5-1 vs. Springfield on Wednesday in a game where goalie Tristan Jarry scored a goal. And capping it all by losing to Charlotte 2-1 on Friday. Their performance was likely affected by the call-ups of Derek Grant and Garrett Wilson by Pittsburgh, Wilson will return to the team today.
*The Baby Pens' next game is tonight vs. Charlotte at home, programmed up against the Big Penguins' game, at 7:05PM.
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