The Pittsburgh Penguins may have a familiar face return when they head to Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche Friday night. The Avalanche will be looking for a win after falling in their previous two games.
Penguins to Get Crosby Back?
The Pittsburgh Penguins come into play with a record of 26-12-5 for 57 points. That total puts them in a tie for fourth overall in the NHL with the New York Islanders. The Penguins may get back their superstar center, Sidney Crosby, back from injury.
He has missed the last two months after having surgery for a sports hernia related injury. Crosby has increased his workload recently, so the Penguins will be cautious with his return.
The Penguins are 16-6-4 since Crosby played his last game on November 9th despite being hit hard by the injury bug. In addition to Crosby, Pittsburgh’s leading scorer, Jake Guentzel is out for the season after suffering a shoulder injury December 30th.
The Penguins have gotten solid production from Evgeny Malkin in Guentzel’s absence. He has scored 12 goals and notched 28 assists for 40 points on the season.
Right winger Bryan Rust has 17 goals and 18 assists on the season. Rust also has a plus/minus rating of +18 on the season. Between the pipes, Tristan Jarry has taken over the starting job, collecting a record of 14-6-1 with a goals against average of 2.04 and a save percentage of .934.
Avalanche Look to Get Back on Track
The Colorado Avalanche come into play with a record of 25-15-4, good for 54 points. This places them in second place in the Central Division, tied with the Dallas Stars. They have lost two in a row, and have won just three of their last 10 games.
They lost two tough games in New York, falling 1-0 to the Islanders, and losing 5-3 to the Rangers after leading 2-0. The Avalanche also lost rookie forward Joonas Donskoi, who is concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head from Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren.
The injury is nothing new to the Avalanche, who have battled through injuries to top-line players all season long, yet still are near the top of the Central Division standings. One of the main reasons for the ‘Lanche’s success is the play of center Nathan McKinnon. McKinnon has 26 goals and 39 assists on the season and is near the top of the league in both of those categories.
Colorado hopes to build on their 11-7-2 record at home with a five-game homestand. If they do, they will have to get better production in net. Philipp Grubauer has struggled of late during the recent cold snap.
He has allowed 16 goals in his last five games. On the season, he has a goals against average of 2.92 and a save percentage of .909.
Betting Lines and Predictions
MyBookie has no betting information currently on this game, as the injuries of both teams cast a shadow of uncertainty on the game. All things being equal, take the Penguins in this one because they are the better team, even with the injuries.