Head coach Mike Sullivan declined to say on which line Rickard Rakell will begin his Pittsburgh Penguins odyssey, but betting odds say he’ll saddle up beside Evgeni Malkin in the Penguins top-six as they host division rival, the Columbus Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena.
The puck drops just after 7 p.m.
Monday was a busy day. The NHL trade deadline set a record for most players dealt (33), surpassing the previous record of 32 set in 2020. The Penguins and GM Ron Hextall snared two players: injured defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and Rakell.
“Without a doubt, there will be an adjustment process for (Rakell) and us. The challenge is to figure it out as quickly as we can, and we’re going to try to do that,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’re really excited that he’s part of our group. I spoke to him yesterday. He’s really excited to be part of the Penguins. And as far as just getting him on the same page with respect to how we play and things of that nature, that will be our challenge together in the short term.”
Beaulieu is on LTIR and not close to returning.
The Penguins will have several new lines on Tuesday night. In addition to inserting Rakell, head coach Mike Sullivan will have to reconfigure his bottom-six without Dominik Simon and Zach Aston-Reese, who were both dealt to Anaheim as part of the Rakell trade.
Sullivan also took a moment to publicly thank Aston-Reese and Simon. Watch the PHN Pittsburgh Penguins video here.
Columbus is still mathematically alive in the playoff race but has fallen more than 10 points behind the wild-card teams. Columbus also dealt talented scorer Max Domi to Carolina on Monday.
Monday night could be a lot of “new” for everyone.
Tristan Jarry is the Penguins’ likely starter. Joonas Korpisalo, who was not traded at the deadline, will go for Columbus.
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
*Columbus is another poor special teams opponent. Their power play ranks 25th (18.3%), and the PK ranks 20th (78.1%). The Penguins PK is back to second in the NHL (86.5%), but the power play has fallen to 17th (20.2%).
*The Penguins are 13-3-1 in their last 17 games versus Columbus, dating back to Feb. 3, 2017.
*The Penguins have won nine-straight games against the Blue Jackets here at PPG Paints Arena dating back to Dec. 21, 2015.
*The Penguins begin their ninth set of back-to-back games. This year, the Penguins are 10-3-3 in back-to-backs (6-1-1 on the first night; 4-2-2 on the second night.
*Sidney Crosby (3) and Evgeni Malkin (2) have combined to score five of Pittsburgh’s last seven game-winning goals dating back to Feb. 26.
*Rickard Rackell will make his Pittsburgh Penguins debut after 10 seasons with the Anaheim Ducks. Rakell has 28 points, including 16 goals this season.
*Evgeni Malkin has been held off the scoresheet just twice in 14 career home games against the Blue Jackets.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Rickard Rakell||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jason Zucker||Jeff Carter||Danton Heinen|
|Brock McGinn||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Mike Matheson||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mark Friedman||Chad Ruhwedel|
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T SportsNet; Radio: 105.9 The X.