Hellllllllooooooooooo everyboddddddddy, how are yaaaaaaaaaaaa? Tonight the Penguins (34-22-9) host the Florida Panthers (28-26-11) to kick off a mini two game home stand in what some may refer to as 'must win' games. Puck drop is set for just after 7pm.
This 2019 Penguins team cannot be defined or summarized by one word. One night they're losing to a below average Sabres team at home, the next night, they're winning games up in Winnipeg in convincing fashion and on other nights they're showing that they're just one year removed from winning back to back Stanley Cups and that three Cups in four years really could happen again.
Yes, with that intro you guessed it. The Penguins went into Montreal on Saturday night and beat the Canadiens handedly by a score of 5-1. Sidney Crosby (who else) opened up the scoring just 21 seconds into the game. The Penguins also received goals from Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel (x2) and Jared McCann. Matt Murray also played a solid game stopping 36 of the 37 shots he faced. The game was huge from a playoff perspective as well. With the win, the Penguins leapfrogged the Habs and currently sit in the first wild card spot with 77 points and have a game in hand entering tonight. Saturday's win in Montreal was also huge with the Penguins upcoming schedule. After tonight, the Penguins host the Blue Jackets on Thursday, visit Columbus on Saturday to conclude the home and home, host Boston Sunday afternoon (NBC) and host the Caps on Tuesday night. Not saying this upcoming stretch of games is do or die but this is definitely an important stretch of games and even if the Penguins were to breakeven and go (2-2-1) they'd have a good chance at getting in.
Folks, we should all take take a minute out of our day to thank the Florida Panthers organization. Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann look like fantastic acquisitions by Jim Rutherford. Since coming to the Penguins back on February 1st in a trade that sent overrated, terrible, egotistical, entitled asshole Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan to the Panthers along with some draft picks, Jared McCann has six goals and 15 points while Nick Bjugstad has 5 points in ten games. McCann also skated alongside Crosby and Guentzel on the first line Saturday night so he's working his way up the ranks.
Make no mistake though, while it sounds like we're overlooking this game to get to the CBJ games, we're not. This will be no easy game for the Penguins. The Panthers are 5-2-3 over their last ten contests and usually give the Penguins a good game. Florida somehow found a way to lose to Ottawa last time out by a score of 3-2. With the win, Ottawa snapped their seven game skid.
Expect Roberto Luongo vs Matt Murray tonight. Buckle up.
Evgeni Malkin enters tonight just four points away from 1,000 in his career. Not bad for a lazy Russian.
Sidney Crosby recorded his first four point game of the season Saturday vs Montreal.
Sid was named NHL's Third Star of the Week for his performance last week. He finished with 8 points (3G, 5A).
Matt Cullen will skate in his 1,500th game tonight, becoming only the 2nd American-born player to do so.
Expect some unreal tribute video but realize in the end that it's Matt Cullen and he blocked Teddy Blueger on the depth chart for awhile.
The Pens and Panthers have split the season series so far. The Penguins won by a score of 5-1 back on January 8th but lost their most recent meeting by a score of 3-2 in overtime back on February 7th.
Crosby also passed Double J for 2nd all-time on the franchise goal scoring list, tallying his 440th goal.
Brian Dumoulin skated in a regular jersey today, while Kris Letang sported the red non-contact sweater and Olli Maatta skated prior to practice yesterday.
With the return of Dumoulin looming, I just want to go on record and say that Erik Gudbranson hasn't been terrible.
It's 90s Night tonight so if you're going, watch out. The 90's were an incredible time.
No Colton Sceviour tonight for Florida. He's the one that broke Aston-Reese's hand. He's out extended time with a hand / wrist injury hahahaha.
If this Florida team goes out and signs Panarin and Bobrovsky this offseason, they may incredible (except during the playoffs when Bobrovsky disappears).
Florida has 11 loser points this year. That's incredible.