Sidney Crosby is out, and the Calgary Flames (4-1-1) are red-hot. It is the fifth game of the marathon eight-game Pittsburgh Penguins (3-1-2) homestand. Even the Penguins’ families are probably getting sick of them. Certainly, the Penguins fans are turning up in fewer numbers as the homestand goes longer, despite the Penguins’ success.
The Penguins host the Calgary Flames Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena. Puck drop is 7 p.m.
There aren’t many highlights to rehash from the Penguins’ 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. It was Tristan Jarry’s second regular-season loss in his last 22 games.
Jason Zucker scored a power-play goal with about two minutes remaining to break Andrei Vasilevskiy’s shutout. It was also the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first regulation loss this season.
Casey DeSmith will make his second start of the season on Thursday. You can get a good look at his new mask, autographed by Teddy Blueger and featuring Dwight Schrute.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will not play on Thursday night. Head coach Mike Sullivan ruled him out.
“We make decisions with our medical staff on a daily basis at this point. We’re at that stage where Sid is really getting closer and closer. We consult with our medical staff throughout the course of each day — first thing in the morning after an overnight, and we get feedback from those guys. And a lot of it, quite honestly, is based on Sid’s feedback as well and where he’s at,” Sullivan said.
The Calgary Flames have won four straight road games, including a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
What to Watch:
Neither team is familiar with each other, as Calgary played in the exclusive North Division last season and resides in the Western Conference.
However, circle the special teams battle. Calgary has a good power play, but Brian Boyle and the Pittsburgh Penguins have allowed just one power-play goal. The Penguins rank second in the NHL.
The other thing to watch is the Penguins rebound from Tuesday. They finally looked mortal as they struggled to bury chances, and eventually, Tampa Bay’s talent overwhelmed them. Can the group erase the memory, or will they regress and play like they are missing four of their top five players?
A first-period goal or two would surely help. The Penguins got one of those on Tuesday, but officials admitted a mistake after waving it off.
Calgary is a gritty team with a heavy fourth line. Watching Milan Lucic vs. Brian Boyle and Sam Lafferty may not be Penguins fans’ idea of fun, but it is surely mine. There were several scrums on Tuesday night, expect a few more as the Penguins bottom-six are not only scrapping with opponents but fighting for jobs, too.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Rickard Rakell|
|Danton Heinen||Ryan Poehling||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Brock McGinn||Sam Poulin||Drew O'Connor|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|P.O Joseph||Jan Rutta|
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||24.1% (7-29, 11th)||72% (7-25, 28th)|
|Vancouver Canucks||22.2% (6-27, 17th)||60% (10-25, 32nd)|
Pittsburgh Penguins Injuries
Position, Player, Status (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed)
Sidney Crosby, upper body (6 consecutive, 6 total)
Evgeni Malkin, lower body (6 consecutive, 6 total)
Bryan Rust, lower body (4 consecutive, 4 total)
Jeff Carter, COVID-19 protocol (2 consecutive, 2 total)
Kris Letang, COVID-19 protocol (2 consecutive, 2 total)
2021-22 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 27
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
Fans are invited to wear their best 90s-inspired attire when the Penguins hold “’90s Theme Night.”
–Marcus Pettersson is tied for a league-best plus-9 through the first six games of the year.
–The Penguins are facing Calgary for the first time since Dec. 17, 2019.
–The Penguins are 13-3-3 in its last 19 games versus Calgary dating back to Dec. 6, 2007.
—John Marino leads the Penguins on the penalty kill. He is averaging 2:34 of shorthanded time-on-ice per game. Teddy Blueger leads all Penguins forwards with 2:02 of shorthanded time-on-ice per game.
—Zach Aston-Reese leads the Penguins and is tied for ninth in the NHL with 24 hits. Aston-Reese (22.04, 7th) and teammate Sam Lafferty (22.45, 8th) each rank in the top-10 in the NHL among hits per 60 minutes (min. 3 GP).
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T SportsNet; Radio: 105.9 The X