The Pittsburgh Penguins (21-15-6) have lost eight of 11 and trail the New York Islanders by one point for the second wild-card spot. The Penguins have two games in hand but need wins. They get one of the “tank for Bedard” teams Monday when they host the Anaheim Ducks (12-27-4) at PPG Paints Arena.
The puck drops just after 7 p.m.
If you’re unfamiliar with “tank for Bedard,” the top 2023 draft prospect Conor Bedard is presumed to be a franchise-changing player in the mold of Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby.
It’s been a rough go for the Penguins. They are just 3-6-2 in their last 11. They lost three games to the Carolina Hurricanes and others to division rivals the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. The Penguins have not beaten a winning team since Dec. 20 when they beat the New York Rangers.
The Penguins’ other two wins (Arizona and Vancouver) were against teams not in the playoff mix.
The Penguins lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 Saturday at PNC Arena. The Penguins dominated the third period but fell short of pushing the game to overtime.
Monday morning, coach Mike Sullivan signaled he would significantly shuffle the bottom two lines. Teddy Blueger was moved to the middle of the third line as Jeff Carter slid to the right wing. Drew O’Connor remained on the Penguins’ third-line LW.
It also appears Jon Gruden will make his NHL debut. The Penguins acquired the center, who was the 2018 Ottawa Senator’s fourth-round pick (95th overall), in the Matt Murray trade in Oct. 2020.
Gruden centered the Penguins’ fourth line with Brock McGinn and Kasperi Kapanen.
Casey DeSmith will start for the Penguins. John Gibson is the likely Anaheim netminder.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
Expected Anaheim Lines, per PuckPedia.com:
Penguins Power Play: 20.8%, 19th
Penguins Penalty Kill: 84.2%, 2nd
Ducks Power Play: 15.2%, 32nd
Ducks Penalty Killing: 71.1% 30th
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
The Penguins have won four of the last five games against Anaheim.
Sidney Crosby has multiple points in five of his last 12 games against the Ducks and 17 points overall during that stretch (6-11-17).
Casey DeSmith is 1-1-0 with a 1.51 goals-against average, .956 save percentage, and one shutout in two career contests against the Ducks.
No team has won more coach’s challenges this season than the Penguins (5).
The Penguins have points in 10 of their last 12 home games (7-2-3) and 15 of 20 games at PPG Paints Arena this season (11-5-4). The Penguins’ .650 points percentage at home is seventh-best in the NHL
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T SportsNet; Radio: 105.9 The X
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The Penguins are favored on the 1.5 Puck Line (-125). The Over/Under is 6.5 paying -110, and the Penguins are a huge favorite on the Money Line (-320). Anaheim is paying +265 on the Money Line.
The Bet Against Dan and Make Money picks for tonight — we were 0-2 against the Winnipeg Jets — Take the Penguins to cover the Puck Line and take the Over.