The Pittsburgh Penguins are set to face the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL play-in round to decide who will get to advance and thus compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Both Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry played well for a real game setting. It will most likely be a game-time decision as to who gets the nod.
It has been ten years since these two opponents have taken the ice against each other in the postseason. It’s no secret that it will take some time for the teams to feel comfortable and be in top postseason shape. With the expanded playoff format, instead of the fifth seeded Penguins playing the fourth seeded team, the Penguins are playing the twelfth seeded team, the Montreal Canadiens.
Usually with a seven game series, they have a cushion of an extra two games to win the series. With a five game series, the Pittsburgh Penguins need to come out swinging against Montreal. Under any normal circumstances, everyone would know who the home team was for which game, marking home ice advantage. However, it seems that no one except maybe the teams know who has “home ice” heading into the qualifiers.
The final roster for the Pittsburgh Penguins has been set for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The big name stars are on the roster as well as some lesser known names for the play-in round. Granted, with the AHL’s season being cut short, it gave the players on the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins a chance to live out their dream and play in the NHL. Now, this isn’t to say they won’t crack the opening night roster in 2020-21, tentatively set to get going in December.
Centers: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jared McCann, Teddy Blueger
LW: Jake Guentzel, Jason Zucker, Patrick Marleau, Zach Aston-Reese.
RW: Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, Brandon Tanev.
Extra forwards: Anthony Angello, Sam Lafferty, Adam Johnson, Evan Rodrigues, Phil Varone.
Defensemen: Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, John Marino, Marcus Pettersson, Justin Schultz, Jack Johnson, Chad Ruhwedel, Juuso Riikola, Kevin Czuczman, Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
Goalies: Matt Murray, Tristan Jarry, Casey DeSmith, Emil Larmi.
While Mike Sullivan keeps rotating the lines, the defence pairing of Letang and Dumoulin will remain consistent as it did against Philadelphia. Penguins fans were relieved to see that Conor Sheary made his return to Pittsburgh from the Buffalo Sabres at the NHL trade deadline. This of course being just a short time before the season was paused. Sheary racked up six goals which helped guide the Penguins to the finals in two seasons. His most notable goal was in 2016 with the OT winner in game two against the Sharks.
The Penguins need to be sharp and on their game come puck drop in Toronto. Montreal, although they were 10 points out of a spot in the playoffs before the season was halted, have some key players of their own who will take to the ice at Scotiabank Arena. Canadiens captain Shea Weber has one of the hardest slap-shots in the NHL.
Jonathan Drouin has scored 10 goals in 20 career regular and postseason games against Pittsburgh. Carey Price will most likely get the nod from head coach Claude Julien for the start in game one. Matt Murray has two Stanley Cup championships and with that comes the experience in the tense game setting.
Coach Sullivan will put his best formation out on the ice, goaltending included, and it’s up to the players to play their game to the highest. That’s what will give them the edge as they look to outplay the Montreal Canadiens.
Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00ET and the game is available for viewing on Sportsnet Ontario, CBC and NBC. It will also be carried in Canadiens region on TVA Sports for viewing in French. The game can be heard via radio on TSN 690 and 98.5fm.