Blues @ Penguins
8:00 p.m. | Tv: NBCSN
Quest for Three-Peat
It’s banner raising night for the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the Penguins open the season with a bit of a gauntlet against the upper tier of the Western Conference.
Pittsburgh host the St. Louis Blues tonight, followed by a trip to Chicago Thursday night for a back-to-back situation and then back home Saturday night for a Stanley Cup rematch.
For a club whose regular’s looked quite lackadaisical in the preseason finale against Columbus, this tough stretch to open the season could be good for the Penguins.
Pittsburgh having a Cup Hangover under Mike Sullivan would be a surprising development.
“I think it’s crystal clear what our identity is, and our players understand that,” Sullivan said today. “I think every team’s a work in progress. I don’t know that we’ve ever arrived. We’re always striving to get better.”
— While Ryan Reaves faces his former team tonight, so does Oskar Sundqvist.
Sundqvist will open the season as the Blues third line center and will play on a line with Magnus Paajarvi and Tage Thompson tonight.
With the Penguins already concerned about their bottom-6 centers, this trade is going to be magnified all season if Sundqvist makes a sudden impact for St. Louis.
Expectation Game for Antti Niemi
The plan is for Matt Murray to play around 55-60 games but the only thing left on his resume is staying healthy for a full season. If an injury pops up to Murray, are the Penguins still in good hands?
What gets lost is that in 38 games last season Marc Andre Fleury produced a 3.02 goals-against-average and .909 save percentage. If Antti Niemi gives the Penguins even those type of numbers which are not good, this team will still score enough goals where they’ll be fine.
From strictly a numbers standpoint, every player the Penguins lost from their Cup run played at a replacement level during the regular season, but they also had their own unique impact beyond the numbers that makes replacing the likes of Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino tougher than just what they produced statistically.
Phil Kessel on Notice
League sources say talk around the summer and the same talk has even surfaced in recent weeks was that Jim Rutherford’s dream move with this group would be finding a trade partner for Phil Kessel and then having the cap space and pieces to land Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"