Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PN
When: 4:00 pm PST
Where to watch: Sportsnet One
Where to listen: SN 650
Opposition Blog: Pensburgh
The Vancouver Canucks play a game tonight. Do fans still care, or is everyone thirsty for blood?
Mike Matheson was suspended for two games yesterday, but that shouldn’t satisfy anyone in Vancouver. Revenge was never sought out on the ice, super kid Elias Pettersson won’t play for the rest of the road trip, and many feel that two games is insufficient.
1) Ok. Here we go. CarBombs breakdown of Matheson's Mentality & how it lead to a brain injury. Mike clearly gets pissed when he gets dingle dangled, as evidence of his toe pick & the contact he made with Elias at the goal line after he passed the puck behind the net https://t.co/HmBOYB6Dyp— Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) October 15, 2018
Even without Pettersson in this game, you have to wonder if the Canucks are hungry to show that they will stand up for each other. There’s no bad blood with this Eastern Conference opponent, but the Canucks and there lack of toughness will be under a microscope in Pennsylvania tonight.
One other thing we won’t see is Brock Boeser light up Matt Murray again. The Pens netminder came down with a concussion during an incident in practice last week. He backed up Casey DesSmith against Montreal over the weekend, and he looks to be doing the same tonight against Vancouver.
Still, here’s Murray’s finest moment in the NHL to lighten your mood.
Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser
Nikolay Goldobin - Adam Gaudette - Loui Eriksson
Antoine Roussel - Brandon Sutter - Jake Virtanen
Tim Schaller - Markus Granlund - Tyler Motte
Alex Edler - Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson
Derrick Pouliot - Troy Stecher
Starting Goalie: Anders Nilsson
Nilsson facing shots at one end while Markstrom works with Ian Clark at the other during #Canucks optional skate. Looks like third straight Nilsson start, but that’s not confirmed yet— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) October 16, 2018
On the one hand, I’m excited to see Adam Gaudette play tonight. The 22-year-old will make his season debut after starting strong in Utica with four points in his first four games.
On the other hand, even Gaudette’s season debut isn’t enough to offset the loss of Pettersson. It’s still a story worth following during the game, but the looming black cloud of Pettersson’s absence hangs over this team like Gritty haunting your worst nightmares.
Some other things to watch include Nikolay Goldobin without Pettersson by his side. The Russian winger has looked effective with Pettersson, but how will he fare on his own?
Another under-the-radar story is that Troy Stecher is on the third pairing. He’s quickly slipped down the depth chart after beginning the season on the top pairing with Alex Edler. He hasn’t played more than 18:21 this season and played a season-low 13:33 against the Panthers on Saturday.
No word on the starting goalie yet but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Jacob Markstrom was called on tonight. Anders Nilsson looked good again against Florida, but he wasn’t as spectacular as he was against the Lightning last week.
UPDATE: I’ll chalk up the “L” on this one. Looks like Nilsson starts his third straight game tonight.
Derick Brassard - Sidney Crosby - Jake Guentzel
Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel
Bryan Rust - Riley Sheahan - Patric Hornqvist
Dominik Simon - Matt Cullen - Daniel Sprong
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Jack Johnson - Jamie Oleksiak
Olli Maatta - Jusso Riikola
Starting Goalie: Casey DeSmith
DeSmith is 1st goalie off at skate. Looks like he will make his 3rd straight start -SK— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) October 16, 2018
The Penguins suffered a big blow this week when they learned that Justin Schultz will be sidelined for four months after fracturing his leg. At least he’ll be back for when the Penguins need him most: The playoffs.
Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel have been the hottest Penguins so far, with a combined 15 points in their first four games. Kessel already has a hat trick to boot as well.
Look for Sidney Crosby to get on the score sheet tonight. He has four assists through four games but remains goalless. Crosby has eight goals and 14 points in 15 career games against the Canucks.
Hopefully you don’t have Daniel Sprong on your fantasy hockey team. The young winger was an option to play with Crosby or Malkin, but he’s on the fourth line with Matt Cullen instead.
Coach Sullivan on the Simon-Cullen-Sprong line: "Cully is a good guy to play with the young guys. He's vocal out there - he helps them. He talks to them a lot. The young guys have good offensive instincts."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 15, 2018
With three assists in his first for games, Sprong might not be there too long.
Game Day Battle Hymn
With Pettersson missing this game, I feel hollow inside. I’m emotionless watching this game tonight, kind of like the Canucks were emotionless after Pettersson was injured. Too soon?
I’ll give a shout out to Zombie Nation, because they epitomize this fan base. It’s another game for the team without Pettersson, and we’re all counting down the days until his return.
Hopefully this gem from NHL 15 will bring back some emotion to this game. Hey, Boeser did light up the Pens for five goals in two games last year. A similar performance will go a long ways towards temporarily reinvigorating this fan base.