The Pittsburgh Penguins come into tonight’s home game against Carolina with what might be the healthiest team they have had in a while. The only players to miss the game tonight will be Crosby, Letang, Martin, and Park. Everyone else is active.
We are approaching the 41 game mark, which means we are entering the middle of the season and getting healthy at this point is a major plus. Though, we will not see Crosby or Letang for some time, Martin is not as far out as the other 2. Playing a struggling Carolina team at home can go a long way in making this team even more healthy. The Pens are starting to not only play better, but they are starting to streak a bit offensively and defensively and getting to play an Eastern Conference team that is out of the playoffs right now, can further help this momentum.
As a quick note, there is currently no other news to report on Crosby and Letang, so as far as return dates, still not enough info to speculate with. These will probably be the lines for tonight’s game against Carolina per the news from today’s morning skate(Penguins Official Website).
Obviously with any Dan Bylsma team, these lines will get worked around throughout the night but this is what they were skating with this morning. As far as the defenseman, the 7 they are going to play with are Orpik, Michalek, Picard, Despres, Niskanen, Engelland, and Lovejoy.
As mentioned, this Carolina Team is struggling this year, especially on the road. They are 4-9-4 on the road and are currently 7 games under .500 and 9 points out of the playoffs. The Hurricane are led offensively by Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu. Though currently Skinner is out indefinitely with a concussion along with Joni Pitkanen. Jeff Skinner is a 19 year old rookie that is off to a good start with a team that lacks talent right now. That happens to be a big loss for them, but one they are starting to get used to playing without right now.
Carolina is struggling scoring goals this year and you pair that with a couple of goalies in Ward and Brian Boucher that both have goals against averages over 3.1 each respectively, those are reasons enough for the poor record. Though, when you see those numbers, you know that the defense plays a part in that. Right now, this team has given up the most goals in the NHL, and is in the bottom 5 in penalty kill. You can analyze all you want, at the end of the day, this team is not doing what it takes to win. All that being said, in the last 10 games, they are 4-4 and 2 but are currently carrying a modest 2 game winning streak into tonight’s contest.
Feury will be in net tonight for the Pens and it looks like Cam Ward will be for Carolina.