Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (4-0-1, nine points, 1st place Metropolitan Division) @ Edmonton Oilers (2-3-0four points, 5th place Pacific Division)
When: 8:00 p.m. East
how to watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, NHL network outside of Western PA’s local audience market (SN1, TVAS in Canada)
enemy track: Tonight ends a six-game homestand for the Oilers, who have yet to play an away game this season. They went: W, L, L, W and L in a pretty stunning start. After scoring six goals in a win against Carolina on Thursday, Edmonton went down 2-0 in their final game on Saturday against St. Louis. A difficult team to figure out early with no rhyme or reason for consistent performances so far.
Pins way ahead: It’s a quick return to Calgary tomorrow night as the road trip continues. Then the boys have some team building time and a few days off until they play in Vancouver on Friday.
season series: Set your calendar for Thursday, February 23, as the day Connor McDavid comes to Pittsburgh.
Meet the Oilers
SB Nation counterpart: copper and blue
Evander Kane – Connor McDavid – Kailer Yamamoto
Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman
Warren Fogele, Ryan McLeod, Jesse Puljujarvi
Devin ShoreDerek Ryan
Darnell Nurse / Cody Ceci
Brett Kulak/Tyson Barrie
Ryan Murray / Evan Bouchard
Goalkeeper: Jack Campbell or Stuart Skinner
Scratch: Dylan Holloway (injured)
IR: Oscar Klefbom, Mike Smith, Tyler Benson
—Hey, another 11F+7D team! Much like Pittsburgh moved ahead of yesterday’s roster, the Oilers have virtually no cap space and are carrying just 12 forwards at the start of the season. One of them, rookie Dylan Holloway, was injured last week. Edmonton actually did dress seven defenders in three of their five games this season, an alignment that’s nothing new and could keep them busy for a while. They also charge Ice Age for their top and top eight forwards, so it’s not a big deal for them, but it’s a pretty unusual arrangement.
– Cody Ceci is averaging 21 minutes per game this season and has done a good job of fitting in and making a big difference in Edmonton. His career rejuvenation in Pittsburgh was a great story and a resounding success. He’ll never win the Norris, but he’s a legitimate, solid, and consistent top-four defenseman in the NHL.
– Well, it looks like McDavid got off to a McDavid-ian start, oh dear. By the way, can we talk about how McDavid scored 1G+3A in each of the two games against Pittsburgh last season? Must have been quiet mad at Sid’s OT goal a few years back. Anyway, calm down a little McDavid, take it slow, jeez. So, ah, good luck to Dumoulin and Letang, but at least this year it’s going to be hard to let him burn you as much as he did with the pens last year. (Note to Connor: This is not a challenge).
– There is probably no more underrated or overlooked player in the league than Draisaitl, who is something like the new generation Evgeni Malkin. Draisaitl’s stats come down to an average of 50 goals and 116 points season pace since 2018-19. His 181 goals in this stretch is only behind Auston Matthews (and by just five goals). Draisaitl’s points are second only to McDavid and 63 points ahead of his closest (Nathan MacKinnon). While he doesn’t get much attention or admiration outside of Edmonton, there’s a strong case for Leon Draisaitl to be the second-best player in the NHL today.
– The Oil paid Campbell $25 million in private hands to come over from Toronto and there’s still a long way to go, but it wasn’t the best start to starting his career in Edmonton.
– For Edmonton to really make it, they probably need a second option to break away from Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto. Both were high-draft picks that had some skills, but neither made a name for themselves by consistently applying those skills in production. It was a very quiet start for these two players, and perhaps related to that, it was also a somewhat slow start for Edmonton.
And now for the pens…
Possible lines of play
Danton Heinen-Sidney Crosby-Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker Evgeni Malkin Bryan Rust
Brock McGinn, Jeff Carter, Kasperi Kapanen
Drake Cagguila-Ryan Poehling-Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Jeff Petry
PO Joseph / Jan Rutta
Goalkeeper: Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith
Scratch: Jake Guentzel (upper body injury), Chad Ruhwedel, Sam Poulin
IR: Teddy Blueger
– The Pens trained yesterday and Guentzel joined in a non-contact jersey towards the end. Coach Mike Sullivan said afterwards that there is a possibility that Guentzel could play on this road trip. Due to participating in LTIR, Blueger is not eligible to play on this road trip, instead running non-contact with the team as he has always done over the past few weeks.
– Since he’s back-to-back, assumes DeSmith will play one of the next two games. Last season, both Jarry and DeSmith each started a game against EDM. Both gave up four goals and both lost. So pick your poison, I suppose this will be the toughest offensive test the Pens have faced all season.
—Without Güntzel, the power play looks different:
#Pencils top PP (already without Guentzel) goes with a different look: Petry has joined Letang, Crosby, Malkin & Rust
— Josh Getzoff (@JG_PxP) October 23, 2022
Can’t say I’m a fan of not only adding a second defender to the power play, but also adding a second RH shot which is redundant with Letang out there. Petry didn’t typically have a very positive impact on power play earlier in his career, so maybe he’ll buck those trends in a new system. The way things are going, Rakell, Zucker as a web presence, or even Heinen as a hot hand would likely give a different look and better edge than Petry, but we’ll see how that plays out.
- $5.00 on over 3.5 Connor McDavid shots (-125 to pay $9.00)
- $5.00 on over 2.5 Bryan Rust shots (-140 to pay $8.57)
Relying on more than four shots is a tall order, but McDavid has hit that mark in four of five games this season and he’s always ready for big nights against the Penguins.
Rust has 15 shots in five games this season (so three per game) but only had one SOG in the last game against Columbus. Here you can see Rust “coming back to his game” and shooting the puck more, perhaps with a greater focus on power play with Guentzel from the mix.
Season Tips: 5-2, +1,424 units