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Game Day 11: Roadie Penguins Lines, Notes, What to Watch vs. Chicago

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Pittsburgh Penguins Game, Chicago Blackhawks

The Pittsburgh Penguins (4-3-3) had victory in their hand but allowed their fourth goal while facing an empty net. The Minnesota Wild scored with two seconds remaining and eventually won in a shootout. The Penguins have been a mixed bag of up and down performances while they tread water with an injury and COVID depleted lineup.

They face the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center Tuesday night. The puck will drop at 8:30 p.m.

The Penguins will soon get Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel back soon. According to coach Todd Reirden, both went through their cardio tests on Tuesday morning at the UPMC Lemieux Complex. However, neither is available Tuesday.

The Penguins defensemen have relied on heavy minutes from their top three d-men (Kris Letang, Mike Matheson, John Marino). In contrast, Mark Friedman and P.O. Joseph have played limited minutes (about 17), and coaches have sheltered Juuso Riikola with about 12 minutes per game.

Letang has played about 29 minutes in each of the last two games.

“…That was the case last year. I thought we found some different ways to lighten his minutes a little bit–pulling back on the penalty kill, for example…,” Reirden said. “…this situation is a little unique just for the number of players are missing, but to have them at such a high number and on top of that, just coming back from the protocol and from the time away with COVID. So it is tough. (Letang) is in a spot where he’s able to manage those minutes. We don’t want him out there getting through shifts. We want him out there taking advantage of his shifts.”

Tristan Jarry will face Marc-Andre Fleury.

What to Watch:

The Chicago Blackhawks have been a hot mess this season. The porous Chicago defensemFleury has been hung out to dry more than Amish laundry. However, the team fired head coach Jeremy Colliton and played very well in a 2-1 OT win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday. New head coach Derek King will have a honeymoon phase with renewed energy and optimism.

“Certainly, our team discussed that in our pre scout meetings this morning. A new coach always adds a little jolt to your team. Just watching them play the other day against Nashville, they seemed really stingy defensively in terms of how they played didn’t give up much,” Reirden said. “And I think the commitment from the team seemed at a different level…”

So, perhaps Fleury won’t be abandoned, and the beleaguered Penguins lineup will have a battle.

Kasperi Kapanen finally bused out of a season-long slump on Saturday. He netted a hat trick and looked like the player the Penguins expected after a dynamic training camp. He’ll be crucial for the Penguins offense, as will Bryan Rust. The Penguins have to work over the Chicago defense down low.

Some traffic in front of Fleury will be necessary, including the hapless power play. The Penguins power play is ranked 27th in the league at just over 11%. They have to find more opportunities.

Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines

LWCRW
Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyEvan Rodrigues
Jason Zucker Jeff CarterDanton Heinen
Brock McGrinnTeddy BluegerKasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-ReeseDrew O'ConnorDominik Simon
LDRD
Brian DumoulinKris Letang
Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino
Mike Matheson Chad Ruhwedel
Goalie
Tristan Jarry
Casey DeSmith

Special Teams

TEAMPower PlayPenalty Kill
Pittsburgh Penguins15.3% (11-72) 24th NHL91.8% (5-61) 1st NHL
Seattle Kraken17.6% (12-68) 20h NHL80.4% (11-56) 20th NHL

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Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes

INJURIES

Position, Player, Status (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed) F Evgeni Malkin, lower body (10 consecutive, 10 total)
F Sidney Crosby, COVID-19 protocol (2 consecutive, 9 total)
D Brian Dumoulin, COVID-19 protocol (2 consecutive, 2 total)
D Marcus Pettersson, COVID-19 protocol (2 consecutive, 2 total)
D Chad Ruhwedel, COVID-19 protocol (2 consecutive, 2 total)
2021-22 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 46

*The Penguins have a seven-game winless streak (0-5-2) in Chicago that dates back to Feb. 20, 2011.

*The Penguins are 3-0-3 with Kris Letang in the lineup this season compared to 1-3-0 without him.

*Teddy Blueger has won 60.9% of shorthanded faceoffs this season (14-9).

*The Penguins have taken a league-low 29 penalties overall and 27 minor penalties on the season.

*The line of Evan Rodrigues (2A), Kasperi Kapanen (3G), and Jason Zucker (2A) was on fire Saturday night, combining for three goals and seven points. Rodrigues, who had assists on two of Kapanen’s three goals, recorded his second multi-point effort of the season.

How to Watch:

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

Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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