The Pittsburgh Penguins (34-14-9) continue their trilogy against the best in Eastern Conference and probably the best in the NHL. And like the good George Lucas trilogy, the first episode was outstanding. The Penguins wowed everyone with a resounding win over the Tampa Bay Lightning but then suffered their comeuppance the following night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Will it be the return of Crosby or the rise of the Florida Panthers (38-13-5)? The puck drops at PPG Paints Arena at 7 p.m.
Penguins fans may be rooting for a Lucas-style trilogy instead of a sloppy Disney version that satisfied no one. Florida is part of the three-way battle atop the Atlantic Division with Tampa Bay and Toronto and one of the best teams in the NHL–if not the best.
The Penguins will likely have Teddy Blueger back in their lineup, anchoring the fourth line between Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Simon, with Brian Boyle watching from the press box. He was activated Tuesday afternoon and those were the Penguins lines on Monday at the practice.
Florida GM Blll Zito has had the midas touch. Former Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart has become a point-per-game player in Florida, and former Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett has become a prominent scorer and impact player.
And goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has found his Vezina Trophy form.
You can get the Florida Panthers pregame from our colleague George Richards.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Rickard Rakell|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Radim Zohorna||Teddy Blueger||Brock McGinn|
|Drew O'Connor||Ryan Poehling||Drake Caggiula|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|Ty Smith||Jan Rutta|
Expected Panthers Lines, per Puckpedia.com:
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
*The Panthers’ power play has eight goals in its last 20 chances.
*The Penguins PK is third in the NHL at 85.5%.
F Jason Zucker, lower-body (19 consecutive, 26 total)
F Teddy Blueger, upper-body (16 consecutive, 17 total)
D Mike Matheson, upper-body (4 consecutive, 7 total)
2021-22 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 214
*Matheson and Zucker have begun skating.
*Sidney Crosby ranks third among all active skaters in goals and points against the Panthers, having registered 56 points (27-29-56) in 43 games.
*The Penguins have just seven regulation losses in games in which Bryan Rust dresses (21-7-7).
*Evgeni Malkin has points in all 11 home games that he’s played (5-8-13).
*Bryan Rust and Brock McGinn will each play in their 400th NHL game.
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T SportsNet; Radio: 105.9 The X