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In the Skid, Game Day #15: Penguins Lines, Notes & Matchups vs. Sabres

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Pittsburgh Penguins game, lines, Buffalo Sabres

Things have not been going well for the Pittsburgh Penguins (5-5-4). After a pair of flat-line losses last weekend, the Penguins are ahead of only the struggling New York Islanders in the Metro Division standings. They’ll get a surprising test on Tuesday night against the nothing-to-lose Buffalo Sabres (6-6-2).

Without Jack Eichel (traded to Vegas), Sam Reinhart (Florida), and Rasmus Ristolainen (Philadelphia), Buffalo had a clean sweep of angry veterans. The young and hungry Sabres have been far more competitive under head coach Don Granato.

The Penguins have not been competitive lately. The Penguins are 2-5-2 in their last nine games and have not been good, except for short bursts even in their wins.

Last weekend probably doesn’t need to be rehashed. On Saturday, the Penguins trailed the Ottawa Senators 5-0 before losing 6-3 after scoring a few goals in the final eight minutes. The Pittsburgh Penguins were on the wrong side of a D.C. landslide when they lost to the Washington Capitals 6-1 on Sunday. 

The Penguins shuffled their lineup on Tuesday morning. Evan Rodrigues took the fourth line center spot and Brian Boyle was not part of the line rushes. Dominik Simon was the right-wing with Danton Heinen on the left.

That’s a line with some offensive potential, but can they defend the opposition’s top line?

There’s one of the keys.

Another key for the Penguins is energy level. It’s somewhat surprising that the Penguins have lacked energy, but they have. Energy, intensity, fight-back were lacking.

Sidney Crosby is trying to get up to speed. That will take some time–without a training camp, then being shelved due to COVID protocol has delayed his season. Crosby showed frustration by hip tossing Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary into the wall. That hit drew some negative reactions, but not a penalty.

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 Penguins13.6% (9-66) 26th NHL91.4% (5-58) 1st NHL
Vancouver Canucks18.1% (15-83) 16th NHL64.5% (27-76) 32nd NHL

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:

*The Penguins were 7-1-0 in the eight-game series versus the Sabres, including a 4-0-0 record at home, and outscored them 31-14 last season.

*The Penguins have points in 26 of its last 29 games against Buffalo (23-3-3) dating back to October 5, 2013.

*The Buffalo Sabres are one of just five teams that Danton Heinen has never scored against (also Calgary, Edmonton, St. Louis and Washington).

*Kasperi Kapanen has hit the post or crossbar with a shot three times this season. Only Toronto’s Auston Matthews (4) and Anaheim’s Adam Henrique (4) have had more such instances this year.

*The Penguins and Sabres will celebrate the LGBTQ+ community as they co-host the NHL’s second joint Pride Game. Players from both teams will tape their sticks for pre-game warmups with rainbow tape and take the ice wearing commemorative pride warm-up jerseys that feature Progress Pride Flag and Pride Game shoulder patches.

How to Watch:

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

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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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Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker (@rob71)
19 days ago

The Rodrigues line is more of a 3rd line on paper. I hope they get decent minutes. I wonder how long before the top line gets broken up. They have been ineffective since the playoffs. I give them at least 5 games for Crosby to get back up to speed and see what happens

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
19 days ago

Seems a shame to break up ERod, Kap, and Zucker, that was the only line with energy.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker (@rob71)
19 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

I somewhat agree. They provided energy, but Zucker and Kappy need to start putting the puck in the net and haven’t since day one. That isn’t Rodrigues fault, but maybe putting them with a more offensive center will help get them going. I would like to see the two of them with Sid.

Crazyhorse87
Crazyhorse87
19 days ago

You want shots on the PP, put Erod on the 1st PP unit, him and Letang can fire bombs with some rebounds available.

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