The Pittsburgh Penguins (28-21-3) are finally into the teeth of the Metro Division Schedule. After soft contests against Western Conference foes, the Penguins will face opponents with long-standing hate which has been building to a crescendo after a pair of June parades.
The Washington Capitals (30-15-5) lead the Metropolitan Division. The New Jersey Devils trail the Capitals by five points, and the Penguins trail by six but have played two more games.
The Penguins have won eight of 10; their only losses were west coast games against Anaheim and San Jose.
The Capitals have been middling over the past 10 games, but have won two in a row.
Injuries / Lines
Just as Bryan Rust came back, Conor Sheary is out week-to-week. Rust had a pair of goals, Tuesday against San Jose and missed the hat trick when he rang the crossbar in the waning moments.
Rust will elevate to the top line with Dominik Simon and Sidney Crosby. Speed and puck retrieval won’t be an issue for that line. The finish may be an issue. However, as Pittsburgh Hockey Now detailed today, the Penguins coaches have been shuffling lines like an expert Las Vegas blackjack dealer.
Expect Crosby to see significant time between Guentzel and Kessel, even as that line has underwhelmed in all three zones.
Carter Rowney will return tonight after a four-week injury absence. Ryan Reaves is also back in the lineup…which could be bad news for Capitals agitator Tom Wilson.
Chris Adamski of the Tribune-Review got this GREAT video from Ryan Reaves. Look for fireworks.
A thin night for scouts at the Paint Can. The Jets and Kings are not here. However, the Blackhawks have returned after a couple of week absence. The Rangers local scout (Rick Kehoe) is here per usual as is the Tampa Bay Lightning.
One wonders if the Blackhawks were the team with whom the Penguins had a deal which fell through? They did steadily scout the Penguins several weeks ago.
The Ian Cole saga doesn’t figure to end until hours after the trade deadline…
Metro Division hockey. Finally! Enjoy.