BLACKHAWKS (17-7-3) at PENGUINS (20-9-0)
In a game that represents a clash of the titans, Pittsburgh will be without their leading scorer.
Sidney Crosby skated for only a few minutes at today’s morning skate and has deemed himself unavailable to play tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks due to a groin injury.
The injury has been bothering Crosby for a few days and he could be sidelined for a few games. Last year Crosby missed a handful of games in late February/early March last season due to the same injury.
Pittsburgh will alter their lines as forward Mark Letestu will replace Crosby in the lineup. The Washington Capitals claimed forward Chris Bourque and re-assigned him to their American Hockey League affiliate this afternoon.
There was some concern this morning regarding the status of
Kris Letang. He is believed to be bothered by an upper body injury but indicated after the morning skate that he will play.
Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal for the Penguins.
There has been a lot of buzz in the Penguins locker room the past couple days regarding tonight’s matchup as many believe this could be a preview of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Blackhawks are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and are nearing full strength with the return of Marian Hossa.
The Blackhawks eight-game winning streak at the United Center came to a halt Friday night as the Nashville Predators defeated Chicago 4-1 behind 34 saves from Dan Ellis.
Pittsburgh has the advantage in goal and are deeper down the middle when healthy but the Blackhawks have a dynamic group of forwards and a versatile group of defensemen.
Despite the offensive talent the Hawks have upfront, they create a lot of offense from their backend. Defenseman Duncan Keith has 23 points, followed by Brian Campbell with 14 and Cam Barker and Brent Seabrook with 12 pts each.
It’s a shame that Sidney Crosby won’t be playing tonight. Evgeni Malkin will be seeing plenty of Duncan Keith who will be matched up against Malkin.
Pittsburgh is believed to have explored a trade for Chris Bourque earlier this week but couldn’t find any takers.
Other than Pittsburgh, Washington was the only team that could re-assign Bourque to the minors.
Pittsburgh placed Chris Kunitz on injured reserve this week.