The Pittsburgh Penguins game No. 21 is full of subplots and challenges. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will not play on Tuesday because he entered the NHL COVID protocol. Ironically, the Penguins will welcome fans into the PPG Paints Arena for the first time this season.
The fifth-place Penguins (11-8-1) face the Philadelphia Flyers (11-4-3) as the beginning of a three-game set at PPG. The Penguins schedule enters a crucial phase, and a poor series could have dire consequences to the Penguins’ outlook.
The Penguins are permitted to have 2800 fans at PPG Paints Arena. Tickets are required and we’re sure tailgating is frowned upon.
UPDATE: The Penguins announced before game time that assistant coach Todd Reirden was also unavailable due to COVID protocols. Skills coach Ty Hennes took Reirden’s sted on the bench.
Sunday, the New York Islanders spanked the Penguins, 2-0. The team managed just 20 shots on goal, including only two in the first period.
Philadelphia is getting healthy after they had six players on the COVID list last weekend when they were part of the NHL showcase outdoor games in Lake Tahoe.
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines & Special Teams
*The Penguins did not hold a morning skate on Tuesday.
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
Philadelphia Flyers Lines
|Claude Giroux||Sean Couturier||Jakub Voracek|
|Joel Farabee||Kevin Hayes||Travis Konecny|
|James Van Riemsdyk||Nolan Patrick||Nicolas Aube-Kubel|
|Oskar Lindblom||Scott Laughton||Wade Allison|
|Ivan Provorov||Justin Braun|
|Travis Sanheim||Philippe Myers|
|Shayne Gostisbehere||Robert Hagg|
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
What to Watch
The Penguins and Flyers have two of the worst PK units in the league. As you can see above, each ranks in the bottom four of the NHL. That’s not proud territory.
“We are what we are. We’re giving up too many goals there. It’s not good enough,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said sternly on Sunday.
The Penguins will face a further challenge without Crosby. The lines above are a bit of a guess. Ok, they’re a lot of guesswork, as the Penguins called up Drew O’Connor and Josh Currie shortly before 5 p.m.
Of course, without Sidney Crosby, the Penguins and especially Evgeni Malkin went on a tear last year. Malkin finished the season with 74 points in 55 games, but his nightly dominance was something to behold. This season, Malkin has begun putting up points, but his play has been inconsistent.
Will Malkin come to the rescue again?
Philadelphia is rounding into form. Travis Konecny is the last player to return from the COVID protocol list, and their lineup is almost intact. Konecny was activated on Tuesday.
The Flyers can play a buttoned-up defensive scheme. Coach Alain Vigneault has long coached against the Penguins in the Metro Division, and his 1-3-1 can be frustrating. Can the Penguins handle more frustration?
Penguins Game Notes
*The Penguins have been outscored 23-16 in the first period.
*The Flyers have outscored opponents 17-12 in the first period.
*The Penguins have only four regulation wins in 20 games this season.
*Jake Guentzel has 12 points (4G-8A) in 13 career regular-season games against the Flyers. If you include postseason games, Guentzel has 25 points (10G-15A) in 19 games.
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet, NBCSN
Radio: 105.9 The X