Thursday, March 28, 2013

Penguins Game 35 Preview - vs. Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Last Penguins Game:
March 26, 2013 - Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 0 [Recap]

Man, things just keep getting more and more intersting if you are a fan of the Penguins. I am not really sure how for about a week a 13 game winning streak could be on the backburner of news, but it is. Late last night the Penguins swung a deal to get Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames for their 2013 first round draft pick and a couple of low level prospects. Last night it was almost guaranteed that Iginla was going to Boston but the hockey world was stunned in the morning (literally, it went down at 1:30 a.m. EST). Whatever. Penguins are all in (as if they weren't before).

So, yea, there is a game tonight. The Penguins already have won 13 gams in a row and they go for 14 tonight against the Winnipeg Jets and while the thought of setting a new NHL record for consecutive wins seems miles away it is not. The NHL recrd was set by the 92-93 Penguins who won 17 games in a row and if the Pens can win tonight this could be an even more reasonable possibility. Just hard to really process by itself not even accounting that the Penguins brought in captains from two other teams to help them do that.

Tonight we all get to see another new addition in Douglas Murray take the ice. I know, I know, he wasn't the captain of the Sharks and he is not the most fleet of foot or a good puck handler but he can be a huge physical force on the ice and a much needed piece to the penalty kill. I was on record as not being as all-in on the move to get Murray but it is always fun to see a new guy come on the team and immediately know they are a part of a Stanley Cup run. Sure, the Sharks have been in the playoffs but have they really? I kid, I kid.

Even more big news is that Evgeni Malkin is going to be back on the ice tonight. OK, we don't know that for sure but at the morning skate he was running line drills with Brenden Morrow and James Neal and he was working on the first power play so that gives you a really good idea that he is going to be on the ice tonight. Also Malkin said that he was ready and although Dan Bylsma said he was a game time decision I would be fairly surprised if he wasn't back in the lineup.

The Jets are a team that is currently leading the Southeast Divisoin but they are also only five points away from not being in the playoffs at all. They are pretty much a .500 team that has played average hockey at home and some pretty decent hockey on the road (10-6-0). They do have some skill guys that can take advantage if you sleep on them and they did exactly that to give the Penguins their second lost of the season when they basically skated circles around the Penguins way back in January.

Evander Kane might not lead the Jets in their offensive categories but this kid can play hockey. He has 13 goals and 25 points while also playing the most minutes of any forward on the Jets with more than 20 minutes of ice time per night. Offensively Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler each have 14 goals on the season while Ladd leads the team with 32 points.

The Jets don't put the puck in the net a whole ton as they are 18th in the league with just over 2.5 goals per game while their defense and goaltending are giving up 2.85 goals per game which is 10th most in the league.

The Jets are going with backup goaltender Al Montoya tonight evidently because starter Ondrej Pavelec has been nothing short of awful against the Penguins in his career even though career stats against a team are pretty misleading because you don't always play the same players year after years, but whatever. Montoya is making only his fifth start of the season and holds a 2.68 goals against average and a .906 save percentage.

Tomas Vokoun in net for the Penguins tonight. He was slated to start this game regardless but due to the fact that Marc-Andre Fleury is still sort of banged up that really set it in stone that he was playing. Voukoun relieved Fleury in the Penguins 1-0 win over Montreal on Tuesday and the Pens got good news today as that it seems like MAF doesn't have a concussion and just has a stiff net. He will backup today so hopefully we don't need to see him. Since giving up six goals in a 7-6 overtime win against Montreal Vokoun has only given up four goals in his last five games which includes 40 minutes in a relief appearances agianst Philadelphia on March 7 and then 20 minutes of work against Montreal on Tuesday.

The Probables

Pittsburgh (26-8-0) (via Penguins website)

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Brenden Morrow - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Brandon Sutter - Tyler Kennedy
Tanner Glass - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Douglas Murray- Matt Niskanen
Mark Eaton - Deryk Engelland

Tomas Vokoun

Winnipeg (18-14-2) (via Penguins website)

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Antti Miettinen
Chris Thorburn - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Patrice Cormier - Alex Burmistrov - Eric Tangradi

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Grant Clitsome - Zach Bogosian
Derek Meech - Ron Hainsey

Al Montoya

The Season Seris (Tied 1-1-0)

February 15, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Winnipeg 1

January 25, 2013 - Winnipeg 4, Pittsburgh 2 The Stats:

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