Gameday 32: Blueshits

It’s the week before Christmas and now both of my kids are home from school (as opposed to just one), so I may not put my back into the next few Gamedays. (Also that punk SSG is away untill the 29th so I’m on my own… unless sumbuddy wants to throwin and help a writer out? ; )


The Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Sunday, allowing the Hurricanes to jump ahead of them and tie the New Jersey Devils for first in the Metropolitan Division. (That tie will be broken tonight as New Jersey and Carolina meet in PNC Arena.) Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is now fourth in the Metro Division, sandwiched by both metropolitan New York teams; the Islanders three points behind them and tonight’s opponents, the New York Rangers, one point ahead. Regardless, the Penguins are not far off from first place in the division, just four points, and they face both the Hurricanes and the Devils between now and the end of the year, so it could be a different story by the time 2023 rolls around.


As for the Rangers, it’s the first meeting between the two teams since the Broadway Blueshirts eliminated Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs this past spring. It was a frustrating disappointment for the Penguins, who had led the series 3-1 heading into Game 5. In that consequential contest, New York’s now-captain Jacob Trouba knocked out Sidney Crosby in Game 5, causing Pittsburgh’s longtime captain to miss most of that game and all of Game 6, by which point the Rangers were able to tie the series and eventually win in Game 7. Yes, the Penguins were also missing Tristan Jarry, Casey DeSmith, and Brian Dumoulin, and they were nursing a whole host of other pains, but losing Crosby naturally derailed Pittsburgh to the extent that their lack of forward depth was exposed and that more than leveled the playing field for the Rangers. New York would go on to beat the Hurricanes in seven games before falling to Tampa Bay in the Conference Finals, but there is a sense that the Rangers overachieved and very likely would have been eliminated by the Penguins if Pittsburgh had a healthy Crosby or Jarry.

Being December this isn’t the most critical time for division rivals to be meeting, particularly when you consider that the last three matchups between these two teams are scheduled between March 12 and 18, around the time when the games mean way much more. Just win and stay healthy, that’s the modus operandi for the Penguins right now.