Of the Penguins’ 15 games, 10 are at home. This will be a welcome change after playing only two of seven games at home in January and only nine at home all season through February.
One of those five road games is this Saturday against former coach Michel Therrien and the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens are one of the league’s biggest surprises, sitting atop the Eastern Conference nearly halfway through the season. Without much firepower, the Habs have relied heavily on their defense—featuring P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov—while leaning on netminder Carey Price to clean up what’s left.
Montreal is third in the NHL in goals allowed per game at 2.05 while the Penguins are second in the league in goals scored per game at 3.37. Combine that with Sidney Crosby visiting the wolf’s den that is the Bell Centre (for some reason, nobody in Canada likes him) and you’ve got one of the most anticipated games of the month.
Despite playing so many games in so few days, the Penguins only have one back-to-back on their schedule in March: a pair of weekend matinees on the 16th and 17th against the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins.
Back-to-backs are tough on teams, but a back-to-back of afternoon games is a little ridiculous. Two consecutive games that require a completely different routine with no morning skate, no afternoon meal and no afternoon nap all conspire to take players out of their comfort zone
Fortunately for the Penguins, the Bruins—Pittsburgh’s Sunday afternoon opponent—have it worse, playing the Capitals in Boston on Saturday afternoon and then travelling to Pittsburgh that evening.
This matchup with Boston could be huge. The Bruins are third in the Northeast Division with 24 points, trailing Ottawa (second place, 26 points) and Montreal (first place, 27 points).
But with five games in hand over the Senators and four games in hand over the Canadiens, it would be a safe wager to bet on the Bruins being in first place when they come to Pittsburgh on St. Patrick’s Day. They are 7-2-1 in their last 10 and have been fantastic on the road so far, posting a 7-1-1 mark.
That weekend series is part of a rather ludicrous stretch from March 10 through March 30, wherein Pittsburgh plays nine of 11 games on home ice, including four in a row at home to close out the month.
Among those games is a contest against division rival Philadelphia and another potentially pivotal matchup with Montreal.
Other games of import:
- The Penguins are in Toronto twice, playing both games just five days apart. The last time the two teams met, Toronto spoiled Pittsburgh’s home opener by handing the Pens possibly their ugliest loss of the year. The Leafs, meanwhile, lost Joffrey Lupul to a broken arm. Lupul hasn’t played since.
- The Bruins come to Pittsburgh on March 12th for their first visit to Consol Energy Center since March 11 of 2012. Boston is 3-1-0 all-time at Consol, outscoring the Pens 16-12 in those four games.
- The Philadelphia Flyers come to Pittsburgh on March 24th. It will be their 31st game of this 48-game season, and if they don’t have a decent showing in the early part of the month, they’ll be playing a desperate brand of hockey with their playoff hopes on the line.
Of the Penguins’ 15 March games, one will air on NBC, three will air on NBCSN and five will air on NHL Network.