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1st Place at Stake, Gm 56: Penguins Lines, Notes & Matchups vs. BUF



Pittsburgh Penguins lines, Penguins game

This is the end. My only friend. The end. The Pittsburgh Penguins arduous, injury racked, compressed, physical, exhausting, and ultimately successful regular season comes to a close Saturday at PPG Paints Arena against the Buffalo Sabres. The puck drops at 3 p.m. or thereabout with national TV considerations.

Of course, if you’re watching on the telly, be prepared for at least three Tom Wilson montages and six East Division graphics. I feel your pain.

Here’s the simplest scenario: The Penguins must beat the Buffalo Sabres in regulation and hope the Washington Capitals don’t win their two remaining games in regulation. If Washington fails to win both in regulation, then the Penguins would win the MassMutual East Division and most likely draw the New York Islanders in Round One.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan will start third-string goalie Maxime Lagace. Tristan Jarry is out with an upper-body injury but will be ready for the playoffs. Backup Casey DeSmith is out with a lower-body injury and will also be ready for the playoffs.

The Penguins also recalled Alex D’Orio to serve as the taxi-squad goalie today.

For all the marbles, maybe…

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Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines & Special Teams
TEAMPower PlayPenalty Kill
Pittsburgh Penguins15.1% (11-73) 27th NHL92.2% (5-64) 1st NHL
Anaheim Ducks26.3% (20-76) 5th NHL86.3% (10-76) 3rd NHL
Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust
Rickard RakellEvgeni MalkinKasperi Kapanen
Jason ZuckerJeff CarterDanton Heinen
Brock McGinnTeddy BluegerEvan Rodrigues
Mike MathesonKris Letang
Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino
Mark FriedmanChad Ruhwedel
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
What to Watch:

Here’s the simple: The Penguins must protect Lagace, play structured defense and get to their offense game to finish off Buffalo before the Sabres decide they can win.

The Penguins and Sabres played a very entertaining 8-4 game on Thursday, but the Penguins film room probably burned through a few hours discussing defensive assignments and their importance.

The Jeff Carter line has been nearly perfect, but even Sidney Crosby’s line has loosened in the waning days. Crosby has carried the load all season. Through Evgeni Malkin’s slump and injury, he’s probably a bit burned out. The week, or two, between the regular season and playoffs should be a great reset.

Buffalo can skate, and they are enjoying playing hockey with no pressure. Head coach Mike Sullivan calls them “free spirits,” which is a term Zach Aston-Reese humorously and begrudgingly used, too.

This should be fun. Again. God bless the Sabres for playing good hockey, not the defensive hockey that other bad teams resort to (Looking at you, New Jersey).

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes

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

F Brandon Tanev (16 consecutive, 22 total)
F Evan Rodrigues (4 consecutive, 20 total)
D Mike Matheson (3 consecutive, 11 total)
G Casey DeSmith (2 consecutive, 3 total)

2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 268



May 7 – F Alex D’Orio recalled on an emergency basis.

May 6 – F Valtteri Puustinen signed a two-year, entry-level contract.

May 4 – G Maxime Lagace recalled on an emergency basis.

-The Penguins have points in 25 of their last 28 games against Buffalo (22-3-3) dating back to Oct. 5, 2013. During that span, the Penguins have outscored the Sabres by a 108-56 margin.

-Big Finish: The Penguins have earned points in 13 of their last 16 games (12-3-1). Going back further, they have points in 20 of their last 25 games overall (18-5- 2).

-Frederick Gaudreau notched a career-high three points (3A) on Thursday night, giving him four points (4A) in his past two games. Gaudreau has nine points on the season (2G-7A), which is more points than his first three seasons in the NHL combined (8 PTS).

-Evgeni Malkin has picked up assists in three-straight games (4A) since returning to the lineup. He has 16 points (4G-12A) over his last 12 games dating back to Mar. 2 versus Philadelphia

How to Watch

TV: AT&T SportsNet, NBCSN; 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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Katherine Verbeke
Katherine Verbeke
1 year ago

Love the Doors opening line, however, it is not the end, my friend….playoffs coming!

1 year ago

Only fitting, 77 makes it 77.

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