Key Observations Heading Into Game 26 Between the Senators and Penguins


By: Andy Hughes (@PensNation_Andy)

The Pittsburgh Penguins have made a habit of writing out a different lineup each night over the past few games due to injuries. Two more new players could be on Mike Johnston’s lineup this afternoon against the Ottawa Senators. Not a surprise these days. After leading the NHL in man games lost last season, Pittsburgh may be on its way to another season at the top of that list, unfortunately. Here is the long list of players unavailable to the Penguins: Pascal Dupuis, Beau Bennett, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Scott Wilson, Patric Hornqvist and Robert Bortuzzo (suspension). With Hornqvist still being evaluated, Jim Rutherford was forced to make a trade to bring in a healthy forward. That player is winger Rob Klinkhammer, who was acquired by Pittsburgh along with a 2016 conditional draft pick from Arizona in exchange for defenseman Philip Samuelsson. In my opinion, that was a great return for Samuelsson, who cleared waivers earlier this season. He was available to every team in the NHL at one point, but Rutherford was able to acquire a pretty useful player in Klinkhammer in addition to a draft pick. He won’t solve the Penguins’ top-six issues, but honestly, who could? Klinkhammer has great size and is healthy at the moment, which is the type of players the Penguins are lacking at the moment. The team also recalled forward Bryan Rust, who could make his NHL debut at some point soon. He will not be in the lineup this afternoon, though. In order to make room for Klinkhammer and Rust, the Penguins placed Kunitz and Wilson on injured-reserve.

Pittsburgh used the following lines and defense combinations on Friday afternoon:



Klinkhammer arrived last night and will able to make his Penguins debut today against Ottawa. Craig Adams will hold Pittsburgh’s all-time record of consecutive game appearances with 314 after today’s game. Ron Schock previously held that record. Coincidentally, Adams’ streak began on October 18, 2010 against the Senators.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who is coming off his fifth shutout this season, will be back in net for the Penguins this afternoon against the Senators. Ottawa (10-10-5) has struggled recently, going 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. They are also coming off an emotional night in which long-time Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson retired. Defenseman Erik Karlsson, the team’s new captain, currently leads the team in points with 18 in 25 games. Up front, the Senators are led by Clarke MaCarthur, Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan and Alex Chiasson. Ryan recently signed a big deal to stay in Ottawa for years to come while Chiasson was one of the big pieces in the trade that sent Jason Spezza to Dallas.

In goal, the Senators still have Craig Anderson as the starter. Anderson has recorded a 5-6-4 record with a 2.43 goals-against average in 15 games. Backup goaltender Robin Lehner has gotten a lot of work for a backup though too, going 5-4-1 in 10 games. Anderson will get the start today for Ottawa.

The Senators have struggled offensively recently, which is something the Penguins hope to continue. They have only scored 13 goals in their last 7 games and have been held to a couple goals or fewer in 6 of those 7 games. This could be a match up the Penguins need with their current injury situation.

This will be the first of three meetings between the Penguins and Senators. Ottawa won two of the three meetings last season. They had a very entertaining season series last season with two of the three games going to overtime. Pittsburgh hopes to score more this season though. In the 3 games, the Penguins only scored a total of 4 goals. None of the goal scorers from the Penguins are with Pittsburgh anymore (James Neal, Brian Gibbons, Lee Stempniak and Jussi Jokinen). While the Penguins (17-6-2) would love to win any way they can, they might want to avoid overtime with their recent injury woes.