Pittsburgh Penguins at Chicago Blackhawks
Pittsburgh - 11-23-9 - 31 pts - 14th in East - 14 pts out of playoffs
Chicago - 14-25-4 - 32 pts - 13th in West - 21 pts of out playoffs
Tonight we'll get to see how the team plays after their great "come together by beating the snot out of people (or trying to)" party. The Pens don't fight very well, but maybe the sticking up for each other, as Michel Therrien calls it, will give them something to build on. Either way, it will make for entertaining hockey.
Chicago is almost as bad as the Penguins. They're 1-7-2 in their last 10 games, and have an anemic power play (but didn't the Blue Jackets have the same thing?) Offensively, their leading point-getter, Tyler Arnason, has only 31 points in 43 games. Mark Bell does have 16 goals, so there's someone on that team that can put the puck in the net.
The strength of the Blackhawks has been their penalty kill. They also roll their lines well, as only one forward (Kyle Calder) averages more than 18 minutes per game (the Pens, for contrast, have four that average over 19:00 per game - Crosby, Palffy, Recchi and Lemieux).
Other than that, you can read the Pens Notebook on the Post-Gazette web site to refresh your memory about Matthew Barnaby and his longtime feud with Lyle Odelein. You probably remember when Odenlein was with the Devils and Barnaby was with the Penguins in the playoffs, when we first learned about "Cornelius". Don't forget that Barnaby also has some offensive skills too.
From the same article, Brooks Orpik separated his shoulder while practicing. No word on how long he'll be out. Adrian Aucoin will miss the game tonight for the Blackhawks. That's good news for the Pens.
Today is Friday the 13th. Let's hope the Pens do something truly weird an blow out an opponent on the road.
Let's go Pens!