The first ever meeting between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Vegas Golden Knights goes down shortly after 10 PM in Sin City.
When the puck drops the Pens will be staring across from a teammate that will stir the emotions on both sides from great moments dating back to as recent as last year.
The Pens will line up against James Neal for the first time since the Cup Finals victory in Nashv……
Ok. I’ll stop.
The greatest goalie to ever don a Penguins sweater will slip between the pipes for his first crack at his old club since Pittsburgh lost him in the expansion draft back in June.
Marc Andre Fleury returned from a 25 game absence he to a concussion on Tuesday. He made 35 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss to Carolina.
It was fate, and he HAD to return for this game.
The emotions, the tears, the arguments over Murray and Fleury. They are all in the past now. One of the single most classy, successful, adored, and respected Pittsburgh Penguins to ever don the crest will be in the net on the other end of the ice.
And the Penguins should quickly put aside any feelings of a happy reunion.
The Penguins are coming off of a very disappointing home stand in which they dropped three of the five games played.
Currently the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion, Penguins sit on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
To make matters more complicated, in interviews with Pittsburgh media yesterday, GM Jim Rutherford indicated that he may need to be ready to pull the trigger on a major shake up to kick-start the struggling club.
With their starting goalie back in the fold, the expansion Golden Nights are looking to build on an unbelievable tart to their season. The Knights sit at 19-9-2 and are just three points behind the LA Kings for the top spot in the Pacific Division.
So any thoughts of a lay up win over an expansion team should quickly disappear.
In addition to Neal, the Knights boast an impressive offensive attack with Jonathan Machessault, and William Karlsson leading the way. It’s a speedy group that can also defend well with Former Caps blue-liner Nate Schmidt and ANOTHER former Pens player in Derek Engelland who as a full-time Vegas resident and is also the club’s emotional spark as well.
It was Engelland’s passionate speech in the club’s first game of the year, following the horrific shooting in Vegas that ignited a club ready and willing to go toe-to-toe with everyone in the league thus far.
The Penguins should also tonight, get the return of the other half of the Murray/Fleury saga as Murray appears to be in line to get the nod in net for Pittsburgh.
Murray has been out since mid-November with a lower-body injury and was activated Tuesday morning from IR. Casey de Smith was returned to the AHL Baby Pens in a corresponding move.
Murray-Fleury, Neal-Geno, a struggling Pens team, a surging Knights club. Not a bad bunch of sub-plots to kick off a three-game road swing for Pittsburgh
Stay tuned for complete coverage today and tomorrow on the Twitter account and a recap from me tomorrow on our Sports Castle site.
As always, thank you for reading!!
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