The Pittsburgh Penguins (8-6-4) have won three in a row and looked good doing so. The Penguins face the sinking Vancouver Canucks (6-11-2) Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena, and the Penguins could win their fourth in a row and further push Vancouver towards the edge of dramatic moves.
This week, Vancouver Hockey Now reported the Canucks had increased their efforts to make Brock Boeser available on the NHL trade block.
Jake Guentzel had eight shots, and one goal as the Penguins beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 on Monday night. Tristan Jarry stopped 30 of 31 shots to lower his GAA to 2.09 and raise his save percentage to .930.
Jarry ranks eighth in the NHL in save percentage and seventh in goals-against-average.
The Penguins remain the top team in the NHL with a 35.5 shots-per-game average.
Vancouver has lost six of their last seven games, and things are getting tense. The high hopes for the season are quickly fading, and GM Jim Benning’s job appears to be in jeopardy.
Starting goalie Thatcher Demko is also fighting to stay above water. His save percentage is at .907, and his GAA at 3.07.
What to Watch:
The Penguins have been winning, but their first periods have been a bit sloppy. Toronto and Winnipeg had their best chances in the opening period, and Winnipeg outchanced the Penguins 14-5 in the first.
Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust have not hit full stride since returning to the lineup, though each appeared to play a little better on the road trip.
The Penguins speed game and tenacity could put away Vancouver quickly. When a team is struggling, a strong start can end the competitive part of the game quickly. The Penguins would do well to jump on Vancouver.
Jarry has been a wall for the Penguins when they’ve struggled, such as the first period against Winnipeg. With each game, he gets more confident and figuratively taller.
The Penguins depth forwards could have a big night, too. The Evan Rodrigues and Teddy Blueger lines line up well against the Canucks depth.
The Penguins power play might get a jolt, too. Vancouver has the worst penalty kill in the NHL.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Rickard Rakell||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jason Zucker||Jeff Carter||Danton Heinen|
|Brock McGinn||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Mike Matheson||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mark Friedman||Chad Ruhwedel|
Expected Canucks Lines, per PuckPedia.com:
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||15.1% (11-73) 27th NHL||92.2% (5-64) 1st NHL|
|Anaheim Ducks||26.3% (20-76) 5th NHL||86.3% (10-76) 3rd NHL|
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
*The Penguins are 7-1-0 when scoring first this season.
*Danton Heinen scored his sixth goal of the season on Monday night in Winnipeg. Heinen, who has six goals in 15 games with Pittsburgh, is just one goal away from tying last season’s total of seven in 43 games with the Anaheim Ducks. Heinen scored a career-high 16 goals his rookie season in 2017- 18 with Boston.
*In eight games, Jake Guentzel has nine goals, five assists, and 14 points vs. Vancouver.
*Jarry notched his first assist of the season, giving him seven in his 116-game career.
*Evan Rodrigues is currently one point shy of 100 in his career.
How to Watch
TV: AT&T Sportsnet, NHL Network; Radio: 105.9 The X