The Pittsburgh Penguins will take on the Carolina Hurricanes at home on Thursday.
It’s the second Metro division match up of the month for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ll host the Carolina Hurricanes, who are 7 -2 – 1 in their last 10 games.
Earlier this week, we iterated that these division games are crucial, and getting two points against division rivals would make securing a playoff spot that much easier down the stretch.
Here’s three major keys (DJ Khaled voice) to the game against our rivals from the south.
Roll the D
Brian Dumoulin is offficially out for tonight’s contest. He’s been steadily playing top pair minutes all season, so the Pens will have to compensate by committee tonight. With Chad Ruhwedel already on the shelf, Matt Hunwick will likely step in after being scratched on Tuesday.
Dumoulin was logging 20:35 in average ice time. With his absence and Kris Letang and Justin Schultz just returning from injury, look for the Pens to spread the minutes around the lineup. Maatta and Oleksiak have been playing well, so hopefully additional minutes will only fuel their fire.
Carolina is a fast, young team. Their forwards will be looking to push the pace, so quick shifts should help keep the Pens D stay fresh and active.
Keep the Powerplay Hot
The Penguins went 2 for 2 on the power play against Philly on Tuesday. We like it, we love it, we want some more of it. They now rank first in the NHL with a 26% on the PP.
The Canes are in the bottom 10 of the league on the penalty kill, so the Pens should be licking their chops to get on the man advantage.
When the opportunities arise, the Pens just need to fire at will. Carolina ranks 31st overall in blocked shots, so the lanes will be open. Phil Kessel might just register 10 shots on goal tonight.
Matt Murray will start in net. He made seven saves after Jarry left Tuesday’s game with a hand injury.
Murray has a chance to have a nice bounce back game after Jarry got the nod against the Flyers, but it won’t come easy.
Carolina is third in the league in shots per game with 34.59 (that’s right on par with the Penguins for comparison). Also akin to the Pens, the Canes haven’t been burying as many opportunities as they’d like. They own one of the worst shot percentages in the NHL (7.9%).
A team that shoots a lot but doesn’t score is a goalie’s best friend. But we also know the Pittsburgh Penguins defense is pretty user friendly. Hopefully Matt can stay busy, bail the team out of some scary situations, and come away with a W.
The Hurricanes own the best SAT% in the league with a 54.42%. This increases to 60.02 % when they are trailing. They don’t call them the Cardiac Canes for nothing.