Penguins Crosby, Kraken Schwartz

Kraken Game Day 59; Similarly Desperate Pittsburgh Penguins

Kraken Game Facts

Thursday Evening: Pittsburgh Penguins at Seattle Kraken

Where: Climate Pledge Arena

When: 7:00 pm pacific

TV/Radio: Root Sports / FM 93.3

Key Factors:

Starting goalies: Tristan Jarry vs. Philipp Grubauer

Both teams enter the evening seven points behind the 2nd wild card spot in their respective conferences. The Penguins have to hop over three teams to get there, the Kraken four.

Pittsburgh suffered a huge blow when it lost one of its leading scorers and top trade chip in forward Jake Guentzel, who went down with an upper body injury two weeks ago. He’s expected to miss at least a month.

We can’t call him the “kid”. Sidney Crosby is 36-years-old and leads the Penguins in scoring with 62 points. I recall being part of the on-air TV crew that televised his first ever NHL home game at the “Igloo” back in 2005. Glen Murray scored the game winner in overtime on an assist to Joe Thornton for Boston.

The Bruins head coach for that game: Current Pen’s bench boss Mike Sullivan.

Crosby remains a remarkable person and an outstanding player.

Pittsburgh has a three-game win streak going.

Meanwhile, the Kraken lost the often injured forward Andre Burakovsky to a lower body injury the other night when he tumbled in the left wing corner in overtime and came up limping. We watched from the press box as he hobbled off and simply thought, “uh oh”.

“Burkie”, one of the club’s 3 most expensive forwards, hads’t scored a goal in 17 games.

There are two other games on the NHL calendar on Thursday night with direct Western Conference wild card implications.

The Kraken lost to the Penguins in Pittsburgh 3-0 on January 15th.

Who’s Hot? And Not?

Crosby has seven points over his last three games, including two assists in Tuesday’s comeback OT win in Vancouver. He has ten points looking back over his last six games.

Rickard Rakell had two goals in the win against the Canucks and has five points over his last four games.

Defenseman Erik Karlsson scored the overtime game winner and the reigning Norris Trophy winner has a five-game point streak. (6 points)

For Seattle, Grubauer has been the better of the two Kraken goaltenders over the last few games and looks to win his fourth straight start.

Jared McCann had his career high seven-game point streak snapped against the Bruins on Monday.

Jordan Eberle kept his hot streak going. He’s averaging a goal-a-game over his last five and is averaging a point-a-game over his last 16.

Fellow veteran forward Jaden Schwartz has just one point over his last ten games, the exact same drought as winger Eeli Tolvanen. They also both have just three points over their last 16 games.

Special Teams

Pittsburgh went 1-for-5 on the power play on Tuesday in Vancouver while allowing the Canucks to go 1-for-4 on their man advantage. The Penguins PP misses Guentzel a bit, but then again, over the duration of the season it has only clicked 14.8% of the time, 5th-worst in the NHL. Their PK is a solid 82.1%.

The Kraken went 1-for-5 on the power play against a Bruins three nights ago, keeping the power play success rate at 20.9% for the season. Boston went 1-for-1 on their power play against Seattle, a club that successfully kills penalties just 78.5% of the time.

Coming In:

Penguins: 27-21-and-8, in 6th place in the Metropolitan Division with 62 points. The Penguins beat the Canucks 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday night.

Kraken: 25-22-and-11, in 6th place in the Pacific Division with 61 points. Seattle beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 in a shoot-out on Monday.

Recent Kraken:

— Kraken NHL Wednesday; Bad News, Trade Likelihood Increases

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.