The Pittsburgh Penguins (25-21-3) have made the Carolina Hurricanes (21-18-8) look like one of the best teams in the league, over the last several weeks. The Penguins and Hurricanes are both outside the Eastern Conference playoff seeds, but the Hurricanes soundly beat the Penguins both on December 29 (2-1) and on January 4, (4-0).
The Penguins are three points ahead of the Hurricanes, but Carolina has two games in hand. The Hurricanes have just three wins in their last 10 games.
The Penguins are tied with the New York Rangers for the Eastern Conference second wild-card, but the Rangers have one game in hand.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 23, 2018
The Hurricanes have the 25th ranked road-penalty killing unit, and the Penguins convert power plays at 27.7% at home.
Carolina is 8-8-8 in one-goal games, while the Penguins are 13-10-3. The Penguins are 5-15-1 when opponents score first, but Carolina is an abysmal 3-13-5.
The Hurricanes have earned a point in five of their last six Metro Division games, and are the NHL’s best shot suppression team. They’ve averaged a league-best 29 shots this season.
Third-string goalie Casey DeSmith will start in goal for the Penguins, again. It’s DeSmith’s third straight start. He has yielded three goals in the last two games and stopped 62 of 65 shots.
The Penguins sent Daniel Sprong to WBS, yesterday. Bryan Rust is likely in the lineup, which will serve pressbox nachos to Ryan Reaves. (I wouldn’t dare touch his pretzel bites, either).
With Rust, the Penguins still figure to maintain the Crash-Bang-Boom line of Carl Hagelin, Evgeni Malkin, and Patric Hornqvist. The trio has combined for 22 points in the last seven games. And no, we won’t drop our push to make that name stick.
Here is the interesting development: Bruins Assistant GM John Ferguson is in attendance. Pittsburgh Hockey Now has been working to confirm trade talks between the two, but thus far have only been presented second-hand accounts. However, AGM’s do not scout teams for media room buffets.
The Bruins also scouted the Penguins on the west coast trip.
The L.A. Kings, who also scouted the Penguins in San Jose, are here, as is a single scout from each of the Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights.