Helllllooooooo everyboddddyyyyy, the Penguins (26-16-6) kick off the unofficial start to the second half of their season tonight when Brian Boyle and the New Jersey Devils (18-23-7) come to town. Puck drop is slated for just after 7pm from PPG Paints Arena.
With their bye week and an All-Star break mixed in, the Penguins should enter tonight well-rested. They haven't played in eight days since losing 7-3 to Marc-Andre Fleury and the Golden Knights last Saturday. The break came at a good time considering the Pens got absolutely worked on their West Coast road trip, going 2-3 and while 2-3 doesn't sound too terrible, factor in allowing the first three goals to Daniel Sprong and the Ducks and somehow coming back to win that game and a tight 2-1 overtime victory against the Coyotes the next night. Long story short, the Penguins could have easily gone 0-4-1 on that trip.
The Devils, despite a hot start have come back to earth. Entering tonight, they're tied for the fewest points in the Eastern Conference with 43 and rank 30th in the NHL, only ahead of the Ottawa Senators which isn't exactly a compliment. Yikes. Over the course of their last ten games, the Devils are 3-7-0 so this seems too good to be true that the Penguins would be able to beat them, especially after an eight day break. Speaking of which, the Penguins are 0-2 against them so far this year, having lost by scores of 5-1 and 4-2.
Expect Keith Kinkade to oppose Matt Murray in goal tonight.
Sidney Crosby is good at hockey. If you live under a rock, he took home the All-Star Game MVP as voted on by the fans. Not a big deal but Sid tallied 4 goals and 4 assists on the evening, dominating the game. He also won some car but who cares.
This is the second MVP trophy Sid's taken home at SAP Center.
The Penguins should be working on a trade for Isles forward Mathew Barzal like yesterday. That kid is pretty good at the sport and watching Crosby, Barzal, and Letang 3 on 3 was incredible.
We've also learned that Sharks fans are not over 2016 as Letang and Sid were greeted with boos. I enjoy mad.
Justin Schultz should return to team practice soon and could begin playing sometime within the next two weeks.
Speaking of Justin Schultz's imminent return, today the Penguins shipped defensemen Jamie Oleksiak back to Dallas for a 2019 fourth round pick. I'm pretty sure they gave up a 4th round pick for him anyway lol.
Matt Murray is 10-1 over his past 11 starts with a goals against average of 1.81 and a save percentage of .944. Yes, that's very good.
Phil Kessel has now tallied 20 goals in 11 consecutive seasons. That's legitimately insane.
The Pens are 5-0 in their last five games against a Metrosexual Division opponent and 8-0-1 against the Eastern Conference dating back to December 6th (Stat - via the Penguins).
Crosby got to play with the Devils leading scorer, Kyle Palmieri this weekend. He currently has 22 goals and 16 assists for 38 points.
No Taylor Hall tonight, he's out with a lower-body injury.
Honestly, this feels like a let down game and I hope you are ready for it.
It is Kris Letang bobble head night though, so we'll be there. Meet us at Milanos Pizza beforehand.