Game Day Preview #46, Pittsburgh Penguins @ Los Angeles Kings

Tanner Pearson comes home.


Game Time: 7:30 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: PensBurgh

Kings Lineup Notes And Other Assorted Feelings

Of all the people Willie Desjardins could take out of the lineup, he pulls out Austin Wagner in favor of Matt Luff.

In fairness to Desjardins, who else is he supposed to pull out? Everyone clamors for the “send a message” healthy scratch to an established player top six player, but most coaches aren’t going to do it unless someone’s play gets really egregiously bad. Chicago still talks about the one time Joel Quenneville made Brent Seabrook a healthy scratch last season. With all due respect, Willie Desjardins, a coach looking for a contract beyond this season, is most definitely no Joel Quenneville.

So, no, Jeff Carter, looking as disengaged as ever, on ice for nine shots against and two goals against at even strength, isn’t going to find himself in the press box. No, Tyler Toffoli isn’t going to sit solely because he’s snakebitten; in the game against Ottawa, he was one of the most effective forwards in terms of controlling possession and limiting shots against. Your “sort of established but not really veterans yet” list essentially boils down to Brendan Leipsic, Alex Iafallo, and Adrian Kempe. Leipsic’s the most likely, least entrenched of that forward group, but he’s caught on with Desjardins for his gritty, energetic style, even though he’s routinely putting up some pretty terrible numbers when it comes to puck possession, shots against, and, oh, I don’t know, scoring (he has one goal and four assists in 18 games since December 1).

One other note: Tanner Pearson scored in his first game against the Kings, back when the Kings played in Pittsburgh last month. Can Carl Hagelin return the favor in his first game against the Penguins? (Don’t answer that.)

Anyway. Matt Luff draws back in. Austin Wagner comes out. That’s fine, I guess. Defense is the same. Enjoy the sports.

The Opposition

At first we were like:

And then we were like:

And then we were like:

And then Anaheim was like:

So yeah, the Pittsburgh Penguins spotted the Anaheim Ducks a three-goal lead and scored three straight in the second period before allowing the Ducks to take the lead again on a shorthanded goal. It was like they felt bad for the Ducks by allowing that, though, because they put up four in the third period, including an empty netter to cap off a hat trick for Jake Guentzel. The Ducks managed seven shots in that crucial third period. It was the tenth straight loss for the Ducks, so the win is as much an indictment of how bad the Ducks are as it was an indication of how good the Penguins have been.

Despite a slow start to the season, goaltending inconsistencies, and a mish-mash of players who, honestly, shouldn’t necessarily be accomplishing that much (Jack Johnson? Really?), the Penguins have been rising through the ranks of the league. Since December 1, the Penguins have five losses. They’ve all been to legitimately bad teams: the Flyers, Senators, Blackhawks (twice!), and Ducks. Last night they apparently decided to right the ship by beating a bad team.

Will tonight be any different?

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