Penguins (27-10-1) (55 points, 1st in Metropolitan)
Senators (14-17-7) (35 points, 6th in Atlantic)
The Penguins take their show on the road for their last game before the Christmas Holiday as they take on the Ottawa Senators in their first matchup since the Pens showed Erik Karlsson and the Sens the exit in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in May. Should be a fun one. Remember, Senators fans are babies.
Puck drops at 7:30 on ROOT as the league has a pretty full dance card – 28 of 30 teams in action tonight.
Learn more about Erik Karlsson being a joke after the jump.
Seven in a row. The Penguins have been able to do just about everything you can ask for and more through a stretch that has seen them lose a ton of defensemen and a pretty good chunk of their forwards, as well. It’s a narrative that is becoming tired in Pittsburgh and even beginning to get overplayed at the national level. At some point it stops being a surprise. But damn, is it nice to think that this team may be deeper than just about everyone thought.
It doesn’t hurt matters when the best player in the world is playing what is perhaps the best hockey of his life. Sidney Crosby has always been a joy to watch, but in following this team, there are times when his talent is just transcendent. Right now he is on one of those tears where it seems like he can just score at will. Or fire a blind tape-to-tape backhand pass cross-crease to set up someone else to score. You get the point.
“We are just playing with a lot of energy … Just keeping it simple and playing to our strengths, got a lot of speed in the lineup and trying to take the load off our of defense a little bit. I think our energy has been pretty good considering how many games we’ve been playing and how depleted our lineup is.” – 87
The Penguins will be on a four-game mini-road trip which starts tonight.
From the Gameday Report: Chris Conner has been flipped with Harry Zolnierczyk in an otherwise unchanged lineup. Tanner Glass skated with practice, but was not on a line rush and stayed after for additional conditioning. He should be returning soon but is not quite ready yet. Evgeni Malkin will miss his fifth straight game. Dan Bylsma did mention that Orpik might be a possibility to return on Friday at Carolina.
Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Conner – Jokinen – Neal
Zolnierczyk – Sutter – Vitale
Adams – Sill – Kobasew
Maatta – Niskanen
Brotuzzo – Dumoulin
Samuelsson – Despres
The Senators have had their struggles this season, even though they were pretty big players in free agency. They lost their captain and mainstay Daniel Alfredsson in the offseason, but responded by shipping Jakub Silfverberg to Anaheim for Bobby Ryan. They also picked up Penguin-killer Clarke MacArthur, who is a dick and will probably score a goal.
All the Senators wish you a Merry Christmas.
The Senators have been near the basement of a competitive Atlantic Division for most of the year, and went for a long stretch of time without the services of
Moby Craig Anderson. Robin Lehner is a capable backup, but the team is allowing 3.18 goals per game between the two netminders, and they’re just 7-10-4 at home.
They allowed a hat trick to Antoine Vermette, a former Senator, in losing to the Coyotes in overtime their last time out. Marc Methot was less than pleased:
“You could just repeat everything I say after a loss and it’s going to be the same difference. We’re all frustrated. I’m frustrated, I’m sure the fans are; it’s almost like we found a way to lose the game [Saturday] and it pains me to say that.” – Methot, via NHL.com
Zibanejad – Spezza – Michalek
MacArthur – Turris – Ryan
Neil – Smith – Greening
Condra – Pageau – Conacher
Cowen – Karlsson
Phillips – Ceci
Methot – Gryba
Craig Anderson looks like Moby.
What To Watch For:
1) Erik Karlsson. Kid is a lightning rod. He leads the team with 34 points (9G, 25A). Plus/minus is stupid, but he’s a -10 in case you were wondering. He’s a strong offensive defenseman, but we’ve always continually pointed out that it does seem to come with the expense of some extreme weakness in his own end. Crosby and Neal both posterized him last year in the postseason. I’m too lazy to find the gifs. So use your imagination or something.
2) Familiarity breeds contempt. Despite not playing this year, these two teams know the other’s system pretty well, even if some of the personnel has changed. Paul MacLean is a decent coach, too, and always seems to get the most out of his players. Also, Diabeetus Conacher on the fourth line is just LOL. Dude went from Stamkos’ wing to fourth line on a struggling team pretty quickly. Would be mean to call it a sugar crash, wouldn’t it? Okay then we won’t call it that.
3) Sidney Crosby. He does what he wants. Chris Phillips is not the defenseman he once was, but he always was one of the guys Crosby would mention when asked who the toughest players to match up with were. Pretty sure even an old wooden ship from the Civil War era couldn’t stop 87 right now though.
8 for Christmas.
Let Moby know that he can get stung by Obie.