Gameday #19: v. Tampa Bay Lightning

penguinsvslightning

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS v. Tampa Bay Lightning

Consol Energy Center, 7:30 PM, Root Sports, NBC Sports

Finally a new team, and finally I remembered to make up the gameday header. The Pens face the Tampa Bay Lightning today and the major stories surrounding today’s game all involve some measure of karmic irony.

If you haven’t heard, the Pens fear that Evgeni Malkin has a concussion. The game after Sidney Crosby suffered his concussion at the hands of David Steckel was played against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the game after Evgeni Malkin suffered a (probable) concussion, the Pens will be playing the Tampa Bay Lightning. The first time around the Pens seemingly didn’t do the right thing–they let Sid play, and in so doing set him up for another devastating hit from behind by Tampa’s Victor Hedman. The Pens will not be letting history repeat itself, Geno has been ruled out indefinitely and that’s perhaps the best thing they can do.

ThePensBlog have come out with a satirization of the Pittsburgh media’s likely overreaction to a lack of news regarding Geno. Sure enough Dejan published his editorial this morning on how the Penguins were doing well with the media this time around. We don’t really care which side you come down on (full disclosure by the organization or thinking that they have the right to say whatever they want about the situation), hopefully this is nothing serious and the whole thing will be resolved in weeks instead of months with Geno returning to the ice.

Geno’s concussion seems to be evidence of the “Hockey Gods” hearing the prayers of the Pittsburgh faithful that wanted to see Dustin Jeffrey in the lineup everyday after he scored in Friday night’s tilt against the Panthers. Jazzy Jeff will be in the lineup and he’s slated to skate on the third line with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy. To accommodate Geno’s injury the Pens are really redrawing their lines, we expect the following:

Kunitz-Crosby-Neal
Bennett-Sutter-Dupuis
Cooke-Jeffrey-Kennedy
Glass-Vitale-Adams

NHL.com ran an article, in which they tried to be clever, that somehow suggested it would be a challenge for James Neal to play with Sid. Haha sure. We are a little surprised to see Jeffrey slotting in on the third line and the Pens moving Sutter up: no doubt about it, in Geno’s absence Sutter is the Pens’ second best center, but we would prefer to see the Pens keep him in a shutdown role and see what Jeffrey can do to make plays. The Pens are expected to stick with the same defensive configuration and Marc-Andre Fleury in net.

The Lightning come into this game in first place in the Southeast Division with an overall record of 9-7-1. They started the year really hot but have since cooled down. Steven Stamkos enters the game tied with James Neal for the league lead in goals (12) and one point ahead of Sidney Crosby for the league lead in points (26). They also have the league’s best rookie, Corey Conacher, and the league’s best geriatric, Martin St. Louis, what they don’t have a lot of is good defense and goaltending. Anders Lindback, their biggest offseason acquisition, has a GAA over 3 and a save percentage under .900, hopefully the Pens should be able to keep their scoring ways going without Geno.

This could be the first time since his rookie season that Sid would have to play an extended period of time without Geno, hopefully he can do what Geno has always done in Sid’s absence: dominate.

Ride the Lightning. Go Pens.

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