NHL Weekend Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins favourites versus LA Kings

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (Image: NHL)

Following the NHL from afar isn’t easy. With most games starting after midnight in the UK, it takes a lot of dedication to keep up with everything going on in the world’s premier hockey competition.

However, the NHL does schedule a handful of early face-offs every weekend with European fans in mind, many of which are broadcast on Free Sports and Premier Sports in the UK and Ireland.

This weekend, five games are due to start before 22:00 (GMT), giving NHL fans on this side of the Atlantic the perfect opportunity to watch live as the action unfolds on the ice.

If you’re planning to watch any matinee face-offs, BIH has all the details you need to know before puck drop.

NHL Weekend Preview, Saturday, 27 January:

Ottawa Senators v Anaheim Ducks (17:30)

Pierre Dorion, GM of the Ottawa Senators, entered 2021-22 with a boldly claiming “the rebuild is done.” He was wrong. The Sens have endured a distinctly below-average season thus far and sit seventh in the Atlantic Division with a 13-10-4 record as a result. Drake Batherson, who leads the team in points (34), was injured by Aaron Dell in the week, making Ottawa’s task against the Anaheim Ducks especially tricky.

Unlike the hosts, who are 2-1-2, the Ducks have a winning record over their past five games (3-1-1). Troy Terry leads the Californian franchise in points this term (40), pulling Dallas Eakins’ team into playoff contention with a 22-16-8 record.

The Ducks, currently second in the Pacific Division, are favourites to win this evening’s clash.

Philadelphia Flyers v LA Kings (18:00)

The Philadelphia Flyers stand on the cusp of a historic moment: if they lose tonight, they will end the month of January winless. Flyers captain Claude Giroux – a pending-UFA – leads the team in scoring with 34 points – but even he hasn’t been able to arrest the Pennsylvania outfit’s slide of late.

Philly are 0-4-1 over their last five games and sit eighth in the Metropolitan Division. Maybe they’ll win the draft lottery…

On the other hand, the LA Kings are performing well. They’ve won twice in their last five games, also losing twice in regulation, and picking up one losers’ point. Slovenian forward Anze Kopitar is the team’s key player, he has 38 points this season.

The Kings are 22-16-6 on the season, third in the Pacific Division, and still very much in with a shout of making the playoffs. If Jonathan Quick performs impressively between the pipes, LA should have enough to put their hosts to the sword tonight.

St. Louis Blues v Winnipeg Jets (20:00)

The St. Louis Blues are on fire, winning four of their last five games, and they have breakout star Jordan Kyrou to thank. The Canadian forward has put up 42 points (17 goals, 25 assists) in 39 appearances this season, playing a key role in the Blues’ 26-12-5 record.

St. Louis have little to fear in the off-form Winnipeg Jets, who have secured just one point from the last 10 available. They must, however, keep an eye on Kyle Connor, he’s also registered 42 points this term.

The Jets have lost their last six games, sit sixth in the Central Division, and will likely sell at the trade deadline. Tonight should be St. Louis’ night.

Late Face-Offs, Saturday 27 January:

Florida Panthers v San Jose Sharks (23:00)

Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs (00:00)

Montreal Canadiens v Edmonton Oilers (00:00)

Tampa Bay Lightning v Vegas Golden Knights (00:00)

Carolina Hurricanes v New Jersey Devils (00:00)

Arizona Coyotes v Buffalo Sabres (02:00)

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks (03:00)

NHL Weekend Preview, Sunday 28 January:

Pittsburgh Penguins v LA Kings (18:00)

As we’ve already spoken about the Kings, let’s focus on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Although the Pens have lost their last two games, their January form has seen them leap to first in the Metropolitan Division. Mike Sullivan’s team are on a roll, with Bryan Rust registering 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in his last ten games.

Pittsburgh have four other players (Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin) playing above a point-per-game rate this month, making up for the team’s slow start to the campaign.

The Kings are worthy opponents for the Penguins – although the home side are favourites to prevail.

New York Rangers v Seattle Kraken (18:00)

Gerard Gallant’s New York Rangers are in a strong position, starting the season 28-13-4.

The Rangers begin the weekend third in the Metropolitan Division, benefiting from the Capitals’ recent skid. They’re 6-4-0 over their last ten games, although have lost on their last two outings.

While Artemi Panarin leads the team in point-scoring (48), the Rangers’ biggest star is Russian netminder Igor Shesterkin. The 26-year-old has been in imperious form this season, maintaining a .936 save percentage 27 games into the year.

The Seattle Kraken, afflicted by the worst goaltending in the NHL, haven’t had the best debut season. However, Jared McCann has been a bright spot (he’s registered 26 points despite missing a stretch through injury) and they have a 3-2-0 record over their last five games. That said, their 14-25-8 record places them last in the Pacific.

Although the Rangers are without star defenceman Adam Fox, they have enough quality to see off Seattle.

Late Face-Offs, Sunday 28 January:

Carolina Hurricanes v San Jose Sharks (22:00)

Dallas Stars v Boston Bruins (00:00)

Montreal Canadiens v Columbus Blue Jackets (00:00)

New York Islanders v Minnesota Wild (00:30)

Colorado Avalanche v Buffalo Sabres (01:00)

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