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Updated: Penguins FINALLY in Action, Gm 31: Lines, Notes, & What to Watch vs. Sharks

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Pittsburgh Penguins game, San Jose Sharks

The Pittsburgh Penguins (17-8-5) won’t know their starting goalie until later Sunday morning and won’t know who is available for their lineup, but the Penguins will attempt to win their eighth game in a row as they host the San Jose Sharks (17-14-1) at PPG Paints Arena. The puck drops just after 1 p.m. and the Penguins will be in their third jerseys.

The Penguins starting goalie is probably Casey DeSmith. Probably. Tristan Jarry was not cleared from Protocol on Saturday because he had mild symptoms and head coach Mike Sullivan termed him day-to-day.

Jeff Carter, Teddy Blueger, Kasperi Kapanen, and P.O. Joseph were also not present on Saturday are in Protocol. However, Mike Matheson, John Marino, and Dominik Simon were cleared and participated.

The Penguins will updated their situation and the COVID players at 11 a.m. Sunday.

  • Forwards Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust have been activated off of injured reserve.
  • Teddy Blueger was cleared from protocol, will NOT play Sunday.
  • Forwards Anthony Angello, Kasper Bjorkqvist and Radim Zohorna, as well as goaltender Louis Domingue have been recalled from the taxi squad.
  • Forward Jason Zucker has been placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 19, 2021.
  • Forward Brian Boyle’s status has been changed to non-roster (personal reasons).

Since Evgeni Malkin has primarily centered the Penguins second line in practice, we’re not sure what the lines will be, but Evan Rodrigues is the odds-on favorite to pivot the second line. Jake Guentzel skated with Rodrigues on Saturday, and Bryan Rust stayed with Sidney Crosby.

The Sharks have two players in COVID protocol. Goalie Adin Hill and Mario Ferraro.

Playoff spot secure: The Penguins currently hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Their cushion is seven points over the ninth-place Boston Bruins, who have three games in hand. The Penguins lead the second wild-card Detroit Red Wings by six points and have two games in hand.

What to Watch:

From our friend Sheng Peng at San Jose Hockey Now, who closely covers the San Jose Sharks:

“The Penguins will need to get a handle on Sharks leading scorer Timo Meier, who looks to come back in a big way on Sunday after getting benched in OT on Thursday night. They’ll also need to look out for Erik Karlsson, who’s enjoying a revival campaign.”

On the Penguins side, the lines are a bit of a hodge-podge. Will the Penguins have “game legs” despite not having played a game since Dec. 17? Will the Penguins lines have any continuity?

The Pittsburgh Penguins have consistently found ways to win. As we asked head coach Mike Sullivan and Evan Rodrigues to name the one thing they liked about the team this season, both immediately named resilience. The Sharks are not a great team, but they can be dangerous. They have already played two games since the official end of the holiday break.

San Jose beat Arizona 8-7 on Dec. 28 and beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in OT on Dec. 30. They will have a clear and substantial advantage in conditioning and timing over the Penguins. How the Penguins deal with those factors could be more important than any tactical adjustment.

Though Evgeni Malkin said he won’t be ready for another seven to 10 days, we wonder if there will be a giant Russian surprise on Sunday. Malkin continued to take full line rushes on Saturday, and head coach Mike Sullivan did not experiment with other lines with the possibility of Malkin’s absence. We’re going to assume Malkin won’t play, but will not be surprised if he does.

Also, Brian Boyle is absent due to personal reasons and won’t play on Sunday. Jason Zucker is out week to week with a lower body injury.

Penguins Betting at Barstool Sportsbook

Moneyline: Penguins (-167), Sharks (+138)

Spead: Penguins -1.5 (+143), Sharks (-175)

Hot tips: The Penguins have won the first period in each of their last six games. The Sharks have failed to cover eight straight.

Betting prediction (which means bet against me): We don’t like the Penguins chances because of the long layoff and the Sharks have played two games. With Casey DeSmith in net, and mix-and-match lines, all of the chips are against the Penguins. Though on thing in their favor, it is a 1 p.m game against a west coast team, whose body clocks will be saying 10 a.m. Bet on the Penguins in the first period. The Penguins best chance is to jump on San Jose early, and they know it.

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Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines

LWCRW
Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust
Rickard RakellEvgeni MalkinKasperi Kapanen
Jason ZuckerJeff CarterDanton Heinen
Brock McGinnTeddy BluegerEvan Rodrigues
LDRD
Mike MathesonKris Letang
Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino
Mark FriedmanChad Ruhwedel
Goalie
Tristan Jarry
Louis Domingue

Expected San Jose Sharks Lines, Per PuckPedia.com:

Barbanov-Couture-Meier

Dahlen-Hertl-Gregor

Cogliano-Bonino-Bonino-Boninooooo-Nieto

Gadjovish-Peterson-Viel

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:

*The Penguins penalty kill still leads the league at 92.1%. At home, the unit has killed an amazing 94.7%.

*The Penguins power play (27th) has converted 15.3%. San Jose similarly is in the bottom 1/3 of the league at 23rd (17.3%)

*The Penguins have points in nine of its last 11 home games (6-2-3) versus San Jose dating back to Nov. 23, 2002, BUT–The Penguins on a four-game winless streak against the Sharks (0-3-1).

*Defenseman Marcus Pettersson will appear in his 200th game for the Penguins. The organization acquired him from Anaheim for Daniel Sprong in December, 2018. Since Pettersson made his debut, no Penguins player has played more games. Kris Letang is second at 183.

*The Penguins are 15-4-3 in games where they score more than one goal.

*Sidney Crosby has 15 points (3-12-15) in his last 10 games.

*The Penguins have allowed two or fewer goals in 21 of their 30 games this season (70%), going 17-1-3 in those games.

How to Watch:

TV: AT&T Sportsnet; Radio: 105.9 The X

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Kris
Kris
7 months ago

Did the virus infect the defense such that we are now going to change the pairings? Pettersson and Marino have been the 2nd pair. What changed?

Jay95
Jay95
7 months ago
Reply to  Kris

They put them back together. And, WOW! Those two weeks off were amazing for Sid. He’s looked more and more like himself, but this? This is the first time that he looks 100% himself. Also, Rust and Guentzel? Amazing!

AnthonyB
AnthonyB
7 months ago

Agreed! I would bet atleast half the farm Malkin plays

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