The Pittsburgh Penguins (27-21-3) are finally within the playoff seedings, regardless of games in hand. At worst, the Penguins are in the second Wild Card position. At best, with a win tonight, they could be in second place in the Metropolitan Division. Things are that close.
Matt Murray (15-12-1) will start in goal for the first time since his six save win over the Boston Bruins, January 7th. Since the Penguins had their bye week and the All-Star Game last weekend, and Murray has been dealing with the death of his father.
Look for the Penguins to put forth a herculean defensive effort in front of the two-time Stanley Cup winning goaltender, who is still only 23 years old.
The San Jose Sharks (26-15-7) are surprisingly in second place in the Pacific Division. Logan Couture (20g,16a) and Joe Pavelski (10g, 24a) lead the Sharks forward scoring. Defensemen Brent Burns leads the team, overall (7g, 34a).
Martin Jones, who has stumbled slightly this season, will start in goal for San Jose. Jones is 14-11-4, with a 2.68 GAA and .910 Save Percentage.
–Sidney Crosby (2g, 9a) and Phil Kessel (3g, 8a) have each scored in the last five games at PPG Paints Arena. Kessel is third in NHL scoring with 58 points (21g, 37a), six points back of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov.
Crosby is 9th, nine points behind Kucherov.
–In an interesting bookend, Crosby passed Jaromir Jagr for second place on the Penguins all-time points list. This week Jagr, 45, returned to his Czech team, which he also owns. Jagr’s NHL career is most likely over.
You’ll accept my apologies for always making you skim through pregame stuff to get to the nuggets you want.
Once again the L.A. Kings and Winnipeg Jets are here to scout the Penguins. Both teams were also in attendance in the games leading up to the All-Star break.
The Winnipeg Jets are scouting their third straight game. The New York Rangers locally based scout is here as are the Toronto Maple Leafs.