Sport Preview: Calgary Flames @ Pittsburgh Penguins, 10/28/2021 … Traces, Information, and Viewing
Who: Calgary Flames (4-1-1, 9 points) @ Pittsburgh penguins (3-1-2, 8 points)
When: 7:00 p.m. East
Watch: AT&T Sportsnet local in Pittsburgh, ESPN +
Opponent Track: Calgary comes into town with a heater and wins the last four games – everyone was on the way (3-0 over Detroit, 4-3.). [OT] against Washington, 5-1 against NYR and 5-3 against NJD on Tuesday night). This is the last game of the Flames’ current east road trip.
Pins way ahead: New Jersey heads for Pittsburgh on Saturday as the Pens’ long, long run of home games continues. After that, the pens will be open next week from October 31. until Thursday, November 4th then nice five days off when the flyers come to town.
Season series: It’s going to be over pretty quickly, the pens are making their way to Alberta on Monday November 29th and that’s going to start the season with PIT / CGY games.
Random fact: Pittsburgh is 13-3-3 in their last 19 games against Calgary overall since December 6, 2007.
SBN team counterpart: Grab matchsticks and gasoline for the latest news about the flames.
Who is hot:
– Don’t customize your screen, Elias Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane BOTH have seven goals in their first six games of the season. They don’t even play on the same line! (Which, I mean, they probably couldn’t handle all that scoring).
– Johnny Hockey has had some magical contract years so far, with eight helpers in six games starting this season.
—Goalie Jacob Markstrom has got off to a really good start this year, his second with Calgary. He has only allowed eight goals in four games and has a shutout under his belt, which saves 1.99 GAA and 0.934%.
Who is not:
– It’s hard to be too critical of the Flames with their strong game lately. But Matthew Tkachuk only has 1G + 0A in the last three games, so maybe he?
—Like most of the others, the bottom group of strikers doesn’t do much in the line-up. Backup goalkeeper Dan Vladar has had as much or more offensive production (1 assist) as Sean Monahan, Brett Ritchie, Trevor Lewis and Tyler Pitlick so far this season.
Johnny Gaudreau – Elias Lindholm – Matthew Tkachuk
Blake Coleman – Mikael Backlund – Tyler Pitlick
Andrew Mangiapane – Dillon Dube – Brett Ritchie
Milan Lucic – Sean Monahan – Trevor Lewis
Oliver Kylington / Christopher Tanev
Noah Hanifin / Rasmus Andersson
Juuso Valimaki / Erik Gudbranson
Probable starting goalkeeper: Jacob Markstrom
Scratch: Brad Richardson, Nikita Zadorov, Michael Stone
– Also a bit cautious, but the Hanifin-Andersson couple has been on hold for 7 GF to only 1 GA in 5-on-5 action this season.
– Old friend Erik Gudbranson found places in the NHL again and again last year despite mediocre results and a really bad season distribution between Ottawa and Nashville (but he’s really big and mean!). Gudbranson actually landed a $ 1.95 million one-year contract, a surprisingly high salary considering he’s signed an odd six-week freelance contract, which … good for him! So far he has started well with three assists and good possession numbers in a limited role.
Low-key player profile
One of the league’s top scorers is a good place to start. Mangiapane is shooting 36.8% this year and that will certainly normalize at some point, but he’s still a very good under-the-radar player who has had good results offensively and defensively over the past few seasons.
From Calgary’s perspective, Draft Day for Mangiapane in 2015 sounded a lot like the sales job that then Pens Minnesota scout Scott Bell had to pull off to get the Pens to draw a younger kid named Guentzel in 2013. Anyway, recently from The Athletic on Mangiapane:
Flames CEO Brad Treliving knew the risk.
If he put Calgary’s sixth round (# 166 overall) pick in 2015 on someone other than Andrew Mangiapane, a favorite of Scout Terry Doran, well …
“I would have been hit,” Treliving said with a laugh when he called The Athletic.
Doran, an amateur scout from Ontario, was optimistic about what Mangiapane could bring to the flames. The Barrie Colts striker may be short and slender but has a high ceiling, he said, with an attractive toolbox, both physical and mental.
“(Our scouts) are buried,” Treliving said. “They knew all of this boy’s DNA about how hard he tried and only the talent. He has high-end talent and he has a big engine that will propel him. The only thing he didn’t do was that the tape measure didn’t stretch. “
Calgary weren’t the only team that were high on the player. Mangiapane had attended the Coyotes rookie camp the year before, and the team were deemed ready to pick him for round seven with their pick.
The Flames had already taken a risk by handing over Mangiapane in the fifth round and choosing Pavel Karnaukhov while hoping Mangiapane would still be available 30 picks later. They wouldn’t take that risk again.
Treliving made the choice. Doran’s got his guy. Nobody was hit.
“We’ve made a damn good player,” said Treliving. “That was a hell of a job the scouts did.”
For every Mangiapane or Güntzel there are probably a dozen mid-round picks that Scouts love and that don’t work out in the end, but it has to be extra pride to see something like this from the Flames in the last game years before anyone else it does.
And now to the pens ..
Practice lines on Monday
Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Evan Rodrigues
Jason Zucker – Drew O’Connor – Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-Reese – Teddy Blueger – Brock McGinn
Danton Heinen – Brian Boyle – Dominik Simon / Sam Lafferty
Brian Dumoulin / John Marino
Marcus Pettersson / Mark Friedman
Mike Matheson / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalkeeper: Casey DeSmith
Scratch: Kasper Bjorkqvist (healthy), Jeff Carter (COVID protocol), Kris Letang (COVID protocol), Juuso Riikola (healthy)
IR: Evgeni Malkin (knee), Bryan Rust (weekly injury)
– Could this be Sid’s return? It’s not official that Crosby will play but he was “up close” yesterday and the pens changed three lines in practice to allow Crosby to return. Usually Mike Sullivan is very loyal to when it is possible to use one day’s practice lines as the next day’s play lines … we’ll see. On a 1-10 confidence scale, I’m roughly an 8.7 that Crosby will be aiming for tonight, if you understand my drift. Perhaps this afternoon, when Sullivan reaches the media, he’ll announce a yes / no to Crosby’s availability for tonight.
– If Crosby is activated by IR it would mean someone would have to leave the 23-strong NHL list. Kasper Bjorkqvist, recently recalled from the AHL, would likely be someone returning to Wilkes.
A very big weakness for the Pens last season was their 27th place on penalties. While we’re still at the beginning of the season, Pittsburgh has got off to a great start so far this season with its PK group. From the team’s PR department:
Special teams were a ray of hope at the start of the season in Pittsburgh. In six games, the Penguins have only allowed one opposing power play goal, and the team’s 93.3% penalty shoot-out success rate is the second best in the NHL:
St. Louis 93.8%
John Marino leads the Penguins on penalties with an average of 2:34 minutes shortened time on ice per game, which is well on the way to being the highest of his career. Teddy Blueger leads all Pittsburgh strikers with an average of 2:02 minutes shorthanded time-on-ice per game.
Marino’s growth as a player to a PK ace is a great development and much needed for a team in need of an RHD after losing Cody Ceci to FA and currently having Kris Letang on the shelf.
As the old saying goes, “the best player on a team has to be its goalkeeper” has some truth to it. So far this season Tristan Jarry has saved 0.933% in 4v5 situations – among the previous championship leaders. Casey DeSmith has a much smaller sample but stopped 4/4 shots while the pens were on the PK. Last season Jarry and DeSmith both had a matching 0.841 save% ‘s (funny, huh) in the 4v5 who were among the worst goalkeepers in the league in the 4v5.
So it’s no surprise that the pens had one of the worst PKs last season but now have one of the best early this season. The PK goalie game is certainly one area you can see improvement over last year, which deserves a greeting.