The Pittsburgh Penguins (2-1-0) are one week from the beginning of the NHL regular season. Next Tuesday, they will watch the Tampa Bay Lightning raise their second-consecutive Stanley Cup banner before the first game of an expected 82-game schedule. Only a couple of preseason games remain after the Penguins host the Buffalo Sabres tonight at PPG Paints Arena.
That makes this the last chance for some to make an impression on head coach Mike Sullivan or GM Ron Hextall before the Penguins begin their roster cuts. Currently, the Penguins have 35 players in camp, and at least 12, perhaps 13, will be sent to the WBS Penguins camp. Some may have to pass through waivers to get there.
A few defensemen battling for spots will get some ice against the Sabres. Juuso Riikola will play in his third preseason game. P.O. Joseph will get his second chance, and Mark Friedman will also get a second crack to make a statement in his push for the right-side third pairing.
Friedman has the best chance to crack the lineup, though it’s telling that coaches used Chad Ruhwedel on Sunday afternoon when they dressed most of their NHL regulars.
Among the forwards, Drew O’Connor will draw in again. He had a solid weekend, first against the Sabres in Buffalo, then on a line with Brian Boyle against Detroit on Sunday.
Radim Zohorna will get a chance to show his wares again, too. Zohorna is on the fringe of cracking the Penguins lineup as the team has used him at center in training camp. He didn’t play Sunday with all of the regulars, so this, too, could be his chance to supplant Boyle for the fourth-center spot.
Kasper Bjorkqvist and Filip Hallander will also get a chance on Tuesday night, but they are prospects who are most likely to report to WBS.
Casey DeSmith will likely play the entirety of the game, as Tristan Jarry did on Sunday. Louis Domingue will serve as the backup.
Updated Pittsburgh Penguins Lines (after morning skate. Credit @pensinsidescoop)
Joseph-Riikola (both rotated on the left of other pairings)
PP1: Letang, Kapanen, Carter, Rust, Heinen
PP2: Riikola, Joseph, Zucker, Angello, Zohorna
With just one week remaining, get the PHN+ exclusive camp analysis and grades here.
The Penguins organization extended the contracts of WBS head coach J.D. Forrest and assistant coach Kevin Porter for two years on Sunday.
Former NHL enforcer Tom Sestito publicly supported Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner’s claims that NHL team doctors are handing out large amounts of pills without prescriptions. Sestito told his own story on Monday night but credited the Penguins staff with cleaning him up.
How to Watch
According to the Penguins camp schedule, the game will be broadcast on AT&T Sportsnet, as well as heard on the Penguins flagship radio station, 105.9, the X. The puck drops just after 7 p.m.
Of course, AT&T Sportsnet is no longer on the DISH network.
Pittsburgh Penguins Preseason Stat Leaders
Goals: Kapanen (2) Five Players (1):
Assists: Heinen (2) Marino (2) Rust (2)
Points: Heinen (3) Five Players (2)
Shots: Legare (8) Simon (6) Riikola (6)
Pittsburgh Penguins Lineup:
10 – Drew O’Connor
16 – Jason Zucker
17 – Bryan Rust
20 – Kasper Bjorkqvist
23 – Brock McGinn
36 – Filip Hallander
42 – Kasperi Kapanen
43 – Danton Heinen
53 – Teddy Blueger
57 – Anthony Angello
67 – Radim Zohorna
77 – Jeff Carter
8 – Brian Dumoulin
28 – Marcus Pettersson
50 – Juuso Riikola
52 – Mark Friedman
58 – Kris Letang
73 – P.O Joseph
1 – Casey DeSmith
70 – Louis Domingue