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Life w/o Malkin, Gm33: Penguins Lines, Notes & What to Watch vs. BUF



Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres

The Pittsburgh Penguins (19-11-2) will continue their life without centers Evgeni Malkin and Teddy Blueger on Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sables (6-20-4). Math and the law of averages may be against the Penguins this week but never bet against a streak as Buffalo has lost 14 in a row. The puck drops on Wednesday night after 8 p.m. because the national audience was clamoring for a Penguins game against Buffalo.

Yes, Buffalo is chasing the hallowed and prestigious 18-game losing streak, which the 2003-04 Pittsburgh Penguins led by Rico Fata, Dick Tarnstrom, Ramzi Abid, Aleksey Morozov, and Milan Kraft.

Did a cold shiver just race down your spine? Yeah, I covered that team every night, too (when did I get old?!)

The Penguins were 1-1-1 against New Jersey last week and now have a six-point lead over fifth-place Philadelphia. Even better news, Philadelphia only has one game in hand.

Tristan Jarry will start in goal for the Penguins, but generating offense will be the primary issue. The Penguins have scored just six goals in the last three games.

Since the Penguins game against Buffalo, rookie Rylan Cozens returned to the lineup after Zach Aston-Reese’s borderline hit caused him to miss time. The Sabres have lost 14 straight (0-12-2). Buffalo has been fed a bar of soap since Feb. 23, and Don Granato is the interim bench boss.

There is even percolating speculation that John Tortorella wants the job next year. 

On the Penguins injury front, Brandon Tanev will not play. Jason Zucker is skating with the skills coach. Mark Friedman is still skating with the team but isn’t expected to be available, either. Neither Malkin

Morning skates are still closed to media, so our “expected” lines continue, with some Buffalo help from our Daily Faceoff friends.  

Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines & Special Teams:
Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust
Jason ZuckerEvgeni MalkinRickard Rakell
Danton HeinenRyan PoehlingKasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinnSam PoulinDrew O'Connor
Brian DumoulinKris Letang
Marcus PetterssonJeff Petry
P.O JosephJan Rutta
Anders BjorkSam Reinhart Victor Olafsson
Rasmus AsplundCasey MittelstadtTage Thompson
Arttu RuotsalainenRiley SheahanDylan Cozens
Jeff SKinnerCody EakinDrake Caggiula
Rasmus DahlinHenri Jokiharju
Mattias SamuelssonRasmus Ristolainen
Jacob BrysonColin Miller
TEAMPower PlayPenalty Kill
Pittsburgh Penguins24.1% (7-29, 11th)72% (7-25, 28th)
Vancouver Canucks22.2% (6-27, 17th)60% (10-25, 32nd)
What to Watch:

We’ll be watching to see tweaks or changes Don Granato has made to Buffalo. But let’s be more realistic. The Buffalo Sabres will have to compete much harder to start winning.

The Penguins will have to compete harder in about 20 square feet, the 10 square around their net and the 10 square around the opponent’s net. The Penguins aren’t going to bury a lot of chances off the rush. As much as coaches want to say they can’t change the game plan without the centers dishing the puck, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan will have to tinker.

He may also tinker with the lines, as he said Wednesday morning.

“There’s always that fine line between spreading your offensive guys too thin,” Sullivan said of possibly breaking up Guentzel-Crosby-Rust. “We’ll make those decisions accordingly. We’ve got some ideas in mind on how we can tweak the lines … but nothing at this point is off the table.”

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes

Position, Player (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed)

F Jason Zucker (15 consecutive, 15 total)
D Mark Friedman (10 consecutive, 10 total)
F Teddy Blueger (4 consecutive, 4 total)
F Evgeni Malkin (3 consecutive, 3 total)
F Brandon Tanev (2 consecutive, 2 total)

2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 170

*The Penguins have points in 21 of their last 23 games against Buffalo (18-2-3) dating back to Oct. 5, 2013. During that span, the Penguins have outscored the Sabres by a 86-44 margin.

*The Penguins have earned points in 13 of their last 18 games (12-5-1).

*The Penguins begin their fifth of nine sets of back-to-back games. The Penguins are 5-2-1 in back-to-backs (4-0-0 the first night; 1-2-1 the second night).

BUFFALO Injuries:

Player (injury, first game missed) – total games missed

Zemgus Girgensons (hamstring, Jan. 14; injured reserve) – 30 games
William Borgen (forearm, Feb. 22; injured reserve) – 16 games
Jake McCabe (knee, Feb. 22; injured reserve) – 16 games
Linus Ullmark (lower body, Feb. 27; injured reserve) – 13 games
Jack Eichel (upper body, March 9; injured reserve) – 7 games
Kyle Okposo (upper body, March 22) – 1 game
Carter Hutton (lower body) – 0 games
Colin Miller (upper body) – 0 games
Tobias Rieder (upper body) – 0 game

*Taylor Hall has recorded 23 points (9g, 14a) in 20 career meetings with Pittsburgh, including four multi-point outings

How to Watch:


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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1 year ago

Wounded Penguins gonna get stampeded at home by some Buffalo tonight I’m afraid. Long overdue for a win. Perfect game to slide in Riikola (still believe dude can shoot) for Pettersson and Zohorna for Sceviour (dude cannotl) at very least. Move Angelo to 3rd so two different lines can park a big asset in front of the net! Then buku shots from the slot and blueline. Alas Sully will wait until the rematch to make minor shuffles then leave those players glued to the bench. I smell a 1-4 lemon–but hope I’m so much hot air