Sharks vs. Penguins: Another test against a cup contender

It's another measuring stick game for the Sharks who travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins.

It's weird to think there was a time when the Penguins didn't have Stanley Cup history. They won their first cup the year I was born, they won their second cup before my first birthday and they wrapped up their third cup just a few years ago. They have won two cups since the Sharks came into the league, winning their first the year prior, and while they slumped post-Mario Lemieux it landed them Sidney Crosby, so, the Penguins are doing alright.

At 39 points, the Penguins have the most points in the eastern conference. That's weird, since 39 points is only good enough to get you fifth place in the west this year (sorry, St. Louis). That being said they have played very, very well. They're a top five Fenwick team, just below the Sharks in terms of Fenwick-for and are riding a four-game win streak (five-game point streak).

I don't watch many Penguins games, but I always watch the highlights. Crosby is must-watch TV and is part of the reason I was so excited about realignment before the season began. Knowing that every NHL fan will have a chance to see Crosby live, in their home building, is very exciting. While my Crosby love is well documented, he's by no means the whole team. Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are all very solid hockey players and just part of the reason the Penguins are contenders again this year.

Ex-Penguin Tyler Kennedy is lacing them up for the Sharks these days, so expect that to be a part of the story tonight. Kennedy has been a great depth addition for San Jose this year and it'll be fun to see him go up against his old team. While Doug Wilson is there, perhaps he can see if the Penguins are interested in taking Brad Stuart or Scott Hannan off the Sharks' hands? You know, for a veteran presence on the blue line. Someone, I don't know, Dogulas Murray-esque may be the piece that will put Pittsburgh over the top this year.

I wrote in the last recap about how great the fourth line was against the Toronto Marlies Maple Leafs, but tonight will be no such picnic. It's going to be a fast, physical game and I can't wait to see how the Sharks fare against one of the powerhouses of the east.

Injury Update: Turns out Evgeni Malkin won't be playing tonight with a "lower-body" injury. Not sure how that impacts the lines, but I'll update them when I find out.

San Jose Sharks


18-3-5, 41 points
19-9-1, 39 points
1st in Pacific
1st in Metropolitan

4PM PST | Consol Energy Center | Pittsburgh, PA
TV: CSNCA-HD | Radio:, 98.5 KFOX
Know Your Enemy: PensBurgh

Projected Sharks Lineup

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
Marty Havlat - Joe Pavelski - Tyler Kennedy
John McCarthy - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Brad Stuart - Dan Boyle
Scott Hannan - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Projected Penguins Lineup

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Jussi Jokinen - Brandon Sutter - James Neal
Chris Conner - Andrew Ebbett - Craig Adams
Zach Sill - Joe Vitale - Eric Boulton

Deryk Engelland - Brooks Orpik
Olli Maatta - Kris Letang
Simon Despres - Matt Niskanen

Marc-Andre Fleury
Jeff Zatkoff