Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs Dallas Stars


This Thursday, the Consol Energy Center will be the stage for an early season test of the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ mettle.  This is not because they have the opportunity to advance to 3-0 at home against a struggling Dallas squad; shows of dominance over weaker teams have become the norm for the Penguins during the regular season.  No, what I am talking about is a chance for the team – from the coaching staff to the fourth liners – to show that they are not taking anything for granted and refuse to play complacent hockey.

Here is a preview of what to expect on Thursday night.

The Bottom Six

As was shrewdly (and accurately) conveyed by our very own Michael Pityk in his article “Pittsburgh Penguins – Where is the Secondary Scoring”,  the Penguins bottom six has had a poor showing so far when it comes to posting points.  However, I predict the slow start for the 3rd and 4th liners will come to an end on Thursday.

Oct 9, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) and left wing Blake Comeau (right) react after Comeau scored a goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins’ first and second tier players, talented as they may be, are going to have games where they struggle to get on the board.  Without a doubt, this is a concept not lost on the guys in the bottom six who want to make an impression on the hometown crowd, not to mention on their opponents (literally).  Against a flailing Dallas team, I am going to go out on a limb and say that at least three points come from the bottom six, at least one of which will be in the form of a goal.  If I had to venture a guess, I would say the goal will come from either Blake Comeau – who has demonstrated that he can score (and look super happy about it) – or Nick Spaling, who has been underwhelming thus far and is likely looking for redemption.


We are also going to see fewer penalties from top to bottom from both the forwards and blue-liners.  Any NHL-er worth his salt, regardless of what line he plays for, knows how much penalties can kill momentum and take a game that was squarely in the win column and put a big “L” next to it.  Don’t misunderstand what I am saying – there will still be plenty of snarl, especially from the likes of Steve Downie – but any scrums, fights, or confrontations will be contained within a broader game plan intended on providing opportunities for the top six guys.

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Don’t look for the Penguins to slow down.  Their league topping 5.5 goals per game average – courtesy of impressive numbers posted by Sidney Crosby, Patrick Hornqvist, Pascal Dupuis, and Evgeni Malkin – is something the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to continue to solidify against the Stars.  If my predictions with respect to our bottom six and penalties are even within the ballpark, look for goals to come from anywhere at any time: from the blue line, in front of the net, on the rush, during cycles, and from our 3rd ranked power play.

Look for the Penguins to put together their first complete game of the season on Thursday night in front of a hometown crowd with plenty to cheer for.

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