Daily Matchup

January 5 – Day 87 – The reigning champs visit the City of Champions

The Arizona Coyotes survived an exciting third period to earn a 3-2 victory in Vancouver last night in out Game of the Day.

The first goal of the game didn’t come until 26:55 had passed, and it was First Star of the Game Shane Doan who broke the tie with his 14th tally of the season, assisted by Connor Murphy and Brad Richardson, an ex-Canuck as of this offseason.  Vancouver leveled the score again at the 13:41 mark with a slapshot form Bo Horvat, but the tie lasted only 19 seconds before Tobias Rieder and Louis Domingue assisted Laurent Dauphin to his first career NHL goal.  The Coyotes‘ 2-1 lead held into the second intermission.

The eventual game-winner was a power play goal only 1:13 into the third from Doan, assisted by Rieder and Antoine Vermette.  The Canucks tried to stage a comeback with a goal at the 4:41 mark of the third from Second Star Daniel Sedin, who took a puck to the face earlier in the game and lost a few teeth, but were unable to get a third puck past Domingue.

Domingue improves his record to 4-2-2 after saving 35 of 37 (94.6%), while Jacob Markstrom’s record falls to 4-5-3 after saving 26 of 29 (89.7%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 34-17-6, favoring the home squad by 24 over the roadies.

There’s a total of eight games being played in the NHL this evening, and most of them will end before your bedtime!  The action gets started at 7 p.m. eastern when the first five games drop the opening pucks (Washington at Boston [TVAS], Florida at Buffalo [BELL TV], Dallas at the New York Rangers, Chicago at Pittsburgh [SN1] and Minnesota at Columbus), followed half an hour later by Montréal at Philadelphia (NBCSN/RDS).  8 p.m. eastern brings with it the start of the Winnipeg at Nashville game, while this evening’s nightcap, Tampa Bay at Calgary, will begin at 9 p.m. eastern.

Two of tonight’s games are divisional rivalries (Florida at Buffalo and Winnipeg at Nashville), while another two are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Washington at Boston and Dallas at New York).

Tonight also marks Rob Scuderi’s first return to Pittsburgh since being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks.  Because this is his only trip back to the city he played eight seasons in (barring a Stanley Cup Finals series) this year, lets take a look at the game in the City of Bridges.

Unknown-2Pittsburgh Penguins Logo







Tonight marks Chicago‘s Game of the Day series-leading 11th appearance, in which they host a 5-4-1 record.  Their most recent showing in the series was a two-goal shutout victory over the Jets on December 11.  Pittsburgh has been featured five times before tonight, and currently owns a 3-2-0 record in such games.  Their most recent was a 4-1 loss to the Capitals on home ice on December 14.

The 23-13-4 Chicago Blackhawks currently sit in third place in the Central Division and fourth in the Western Conference.  They may have started the season slowly, but the Hawks have refined their game to be strong on both ends of the ice, only slightly favoring their offensive end.

With the puck on their stick, the Blackhawks do what every good team does: shoot.  They’ve put a total of 1231 shots on net so far this season (led by Patrick Kane’s 141), of which 8.9% have found the back of the net for 110 goals (led by Kane’s 23).  An especially potent facet of their offense has been the power play, where they’ve scored on 23.58% of attempts for 29 goals (led by Kane’s 12), both numbers well over the league averages.

The Chicago defense has also been very strong this season.  They have allowed 1188 shots on net (Trevor van Riemsdyk has a team-leading 78 blocks), but 20-10-2 Corey Crawford and co. have collectively saved 92.1% for only 97 goals against.  They’ve especially clamped down on the penalty kill, where they have allowed only 21 goals on 113 attempts for at 81.42% kill rate that leads the league average by .66%.  In addition to making kills, the special teams have also gotten four scores of their own.

The Hawks are currently riding a three-game win streak, with their most recent being a three-goal shutout victory over the Senators on Sunday.

The 19-15-4 Pittsburgh Penguins currently sit in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference.  Although the offense is picking up, the Pens are still a very defensive-minded team.

Even though Ian Cole has a team-leading 70 blocks, 1198 shots have still made their way to 14-10-2 Marc-Andre Fleury and co., who have collectively saved 92.7% (1.1% better than the league average) for only 90 goals against.  The Pens have been just as good on the penalty kill, if not better.  Although Pittsburgh has provided the opposition 126 opportunities, they’ve only been scored on 20 times for a 84.13% kill rate that leads the league average by 3.37%.

Offensively the Penguins haven’t been as fortunate, although it is not for lack of effort.  Led by Phil Kessel’s 121 shots, the Pens have put 1225 shots on net, but only 90 have found the back of the net (led by Evgeni Malkin’s 18) for a 7.3% success rate.  Just like the total offense, the power play has also performed below average.  On 129 opportunities, Pittsburgh has only converted 18.6% (.64% below league average) for 24 goals (led by Malkin’s eight).

The Penguins are currently riding a win-streak of their own, as they are victorious in their last two.  Their most recent game was a 5-2 victory over the Islanders on Saturday.

With the 134th pick in the 1998 entry draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Rob Scuderi, a Boston College product from Syosset, N.Y. in Nassau County.  It took until the 2003-’04 before he saw time with the senior club, and earned a full-time position in the 2006-’07 season.  Following the 2008-’09 season that witnessed the Penguins winning their third Stanley Cup (and, subsequently, him being the first ever Long Islander to have his name engraved on the Cup), he signed with the Los Angeles Kings, where he won his second Cup during the 2011-’12 season.  He signed again with the Penguins before the 2013-’14 season where he has remained until December 14, when he was traded to Chicago for Trevor Daley.

After playing in exactly 460 games with the Penguins, probably his most productive season was with the championship team, as he set career highs in assists (15), blocks (164), points (16), takeaways (26) and +/- (+23).

Some players to watch in tonight’s game include Chicago‘s Crawford (six shutouts [leads league] and 20 wins [third in the league]) and Kane (57 points [leads league], 34 assists [leads league], 23 goals [tied for second in the league] and +18 [fourth in the league]) & Pittsburgh‘s Fleury (.927 save percentage [tied for ninth in the league]) and Malkin (18 goals [tied for seventh in the league] and 37 points [10th in the league]).

It is hard to pull against Chicago in this one, as their defense should be able to easily neutralize Pittsburgh‘s offense.

2 replies on “January 5 – Day 87 – The reigning champs visit the City of Champions”

[…] The 26-13-4 Chicago Blackhawks currently sit in second place in both the Central Division and the Western Conference, trailing the Dallas Stars by six points with a game in hand.  As indicated by their place in the standings, they are one of the strongest teams in the Conference, playing a balanced, strongly competitive game.  You can read more about their style of play here. […]

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