And so it begins. The arduous journey over months of time, dozens of bruises, injuries, and in 2022 multiple continents. The 2021-22 NHL season begins with the Pittsburgh Penguins (0-0-0) against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning (0-0-0) at Amalie Arena on the NHL’s new broadcast partner, ESPN.
The Penguins finalized their roster, at least for a day, on Monday. The organ-I-zation submitted their 23-player roster, but four of the 14 forwards will be unavailable on Tuesday night. Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Zach Aston-Reese, and Evgeni Malkin were on the final roster.
Malkin, 35, was placed on LTIR. He’s not expected to return for a couple of months, at least. Jake Guentzel and Zach Aston-Reese are recovering from their absences due to the COVID protocol. On Monday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said neither would be available on Tuesday night. Thursday in Florida is a possibility.
Sidney Crosby made the trip with the Penguins but will be a practice participant, only.
PTO center Brian Boyle also made the trip with the Penguins and signed his contract Tuesday morning. The Penguins also “recalled” Drew O’Connor and Anthony Angello.
UPDATE: Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says defenseman Mike Matheson is out day-to-day.
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 Tampa Bay Lightning Lines, Per PuckPedia.com:
*Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson will miss the opener and is day-to-day, coach Mike Sullivan announced after the morning skate. He is dealing with a nagging lower body injury, something Sullivan divulged after Matheson left Friday’s practice earlier.
*Jon Cooper signed a three-year contract extension with the Lightning on Oct. 11, 2021, ensuring he’ll remain Tampa Bay’s head coach through the 2024-25 season…Cooper has led the Lightning to back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships, three Cup Finals (2015, 2020, and 2021), five Eastern Conference/Semifinal Round series (2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2021), and a combined 383-197-53 record, his .647 points percentage second highest in NHL history among coaches with a minimum of 500 games, trailing only Scotty Bowman (.657 in 2,141 games).
*Cooper, on facing the Penguins without Crosby: “The part (of the event) that’s down is that Sid’s not playing. Even as a(n opposing) coach in the league, you want the other team to be locked and loaded. You want to see all their stars as well.”
*Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy won the 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after going 16-7 with five shutouts, a 1.90 GAA and .937 save percentage in the postseason.
Vasilevskiy was also named one of three players symbolically named to the Russian Olympic team.
*The Pittsburgh Penguins are 22-22-9 all-time in road openers (first road game of the season).
*Kris Letang has 33 points (5G-28A) in 39 career games versus Tampa Bay. He has more points against the Lightning than any other non-Metropolitan Division team
*Since the beginning of the 2006-07 season, Pittsburgh has played just 52 games without both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup. In those 52 games, the Penguins have gone 31-15-6 (.654 points percentage).
*Mike Sullivan is one win away from tying Dan Bylsma for the most all-time regular-season wins among Penguins coaches at 252.
*Jeff Carter is one goal shy of 400 for his career.
How to Watch:
TV: ESPN, ESPN+; Radio: 105.9 The X