Originally written on Shutdown Line  |  Last updated 11/11/14
Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes 7 p.m., PNC Arena TV: NHL-Network, FS-Carolinas, Root Sports Much like Tuesday night's game against the Washington Capitals, tonight's showdown with the Pittsburgh Penguins has a bit of hype added to it. Not only will it be Jordan Staal's first game against his former team, it will also be Brandon Sutter's first game in Carolina since being traded to the Hurricanes. The national media is probably more focused on Staal right now because he won a cup in Pittsburgh and was a big part of that team for man years, but Sutter was also a very popular player in Carolina. He served as alternate captain for the last two years and fans loved his work ethic and personality. Sutter was an ideal third line center at the age of 22 and was seen as a big piece of the Hurricanes rebuild until he was traded this June. Jordan Staal has done a lot for this team in a short period of time but most of the fanbase still loves Sutter and appreciates his time with the Canes, so I'm sure they folks at PNC tonight will do their part in welcoming him back to Raleigh. While that's a nice storyline to add to this game, the Hurricanes also received some great news earlier this morning when it was announced that Jeff Skinner, Tim Brent, Jamie McBain and Tim Gleason will be returning to the lineup. Pitkanen will still be missed, but getting two top-four guys back in the mix going to give this defense a huge boost. Not having an adequate defense corps has been one of the Hurricanes biggest problems over the last couple of weeks, so getting two players back is going to help a lot. I don't even have to mention how much getting Skinner back will help but I just hope that he wasn't rushed since the last thing I want to happen is for him to sustain another head injury. Either way, most of the gang is back together and that should at least inspire the Hurricanes to a better performance than they've shown the last few games. They are going to need to put together a good effort tonight since they are taking on arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference Know Your Opponent: Pittsburgh Penguins The Penguins are currently sitting at second in the Eastern Conference with 26 points and have one of the league's best offenses. Only Tampa Bay has scored more overall and 5v5 goals than the Penguins and the Pens have been able to to it without the help of a ridiculous shooting percentage. The Penguins ability to drive the play forward is also near the top of the league, as they've controlled over 50% of the even strength shot attempts and 51.77% of them when the score is close. It helps that they have two of the best players in the world at their disposal in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin along with one of the top goal-scorers in the league in James Neal and a dynamic defenseman in Kris Letang. There are a lot of ways that this team can hurt you, that's for sure.  One of their big guns will be sitting out tonight's game as Evgeni Malkin suffered a concussion & memory loss after taking a brutal (clean) hit from Erik Gudbranson in their game against the Panthers last Friday. Malkin's absence creates a big hole for the Pens to fill for the Pens but they still have plenty of weapons at their disposal. Crosby, Neal and Letang being the obvious ones but Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz are certainly no slouches either and even our old friend Brandon Sutter has chipped into the secondary scoring this year with four goals. Sutter's underlying numbers, on the other hand, haven't been very good this year as it appears the Penguins are spending a lot of time in their own zone whenever he is on the ice. Part of this is likely because Sutter is getting all of the tough matchups on the third line to free up easier minutes for Malkin and Neal. Basically similar to what Jordan Staal did for them in years prior. Malkin being out could mean Crosby will bet getting the zone start push and easier matchups if he plays on Neal's line, which could end poorly for the Hurricanes. Here's to hoping that Muller uses the last change to his full advantage to help off-set that. Tentative Lines Tlusty - E. Staal - Semin Skinner - J. Staal - LaRose Jokinen - Nash - Dwyer Wallace - Brent - Dalpe Harrison - Faulk Gleason - Sanguinetti Corvo - McBain Ward Ellis Kunitz - Crosby - Neal Bennett - Sutter - Dupuis Cooke - Jeffrey - Kennedy Glass - Vitale - Adams Orpik - Martin Niskanen - Letang Despres - Engelland Fleury Vokoun Five Things to Watch For - The matchup I'm most keen on watching tonight is Jordan Staal up against his old teammate Sidney Crosby. Staal has beeen getting the tough matchups all season and he has been doing a fine job of winning the battles against them. It's something that he's been able to do against his entire career but this is going to be the first time he has ever faced off against Crosby as an opponent. Seeing how Crosby is the best player in the world right now, this matchup could be very interesting. The Canes are lucky that they don't have to worry about who will be facing off against Malkin since I don't think it will end well for any of their other lines.  - On the other hand, this is going to be the first time that Eric Staal has faced Brandon Sutter as an opponent. Sutter is a skilled tough minutes player and he probably knows most of Staal's moves and tendencies from being teammates with him for so long. The first line has been awful the last five games so I'm hoping they can pull out a good performance tonight. Although there is much less pressure on them now that Skinner is back in the lineup. - How effective will Skinner be tonight is what I'm wondering. It's his first game back from a concussion and I can't help but feel that the whole process was rushed. If he's passed all the tests and feels fine then all should be well and good but we'll see how he looks in game action. Skinner is the type of player who never gives up on a play and his determination is hard to dislike but he also puts himself into some bad positions as a result. Hopefully he can learn to keep his intensity while playing a little smarter than before because the team really needs him to stay in the lineup. Oh, and Brooks Orpik will likely be out there whenever he is on the ice, so watch out for that too. - The defense pair seem a bit off to me right now but I'm sure that Muller was just experimenting with things in practice now that he has 7-8 defensemen healthy again. If I were running the team, I'd put Gleason back on shutdown duty with Faulk. No Malkin in the lineup means that the Canes can target one of the Pens top lines with their best defensive players so splitting up Faulk & Gleason doesn't make much sense here. Then again, this is also Gleason's first game back from a foot/ankle injury so maybe they want to ease him back into playing shape? - Chad LaRose will start this game on the top-six according to the lines at practice this morning. Therefore, my fifth thing to watch for is how long it will be until this line is broken up and the inevitable shuffling between wingers begins. I'm not sure why LaRose is being given another shot in the top-six after his performance on the top line against Washington but I'm just going to hope that it works out without this line becoming completely useless. I do feel for Patrick Dwyer, though. Seeing how he was a great combo with Jordan Staal and gets demoted and replaced with someone who hasn't been playing well at even strength this year. The Hurricanes will play five of their next six games at home and the last time they won a game at the PNC Arena was exactly two weeks ago. With everyone finally healthy again, tonight is a good chance for them to put on a good show for the fans and get back in the win column. It's going to take a strong effort, though because nothing ever comes easy against Pittsburgh.  
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

RG3 on Patriots: 'They operate like a high school football team'

AUDIO: Reds skipper Bryan Price drops 77 f-bombs in rant

Monty Williams: Warriors home crowd noise 'out of hand'

LT thinks Philip Rivers won’t play for Chargers in 2015

Report: Kevin Ollie 'seriously considered' for Thunder job

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Floyd Mayweather: I'm a better fighter than Muhammad Ali

Video emerges of Warren Sapp talking about prostitute arrest

Chip Kelly in 2011: Tim Tebow is not our team's QB type

NBA commissioner: Sports gambling is 'good for business'

RG3 'wouldn't be bummed' if Redskins don't pick up option

Adrian Peterson would be the death of the Cowboys

The Milwaukee Brewers' untimely collapse

Cubs will reportedly call up prospect Addison Russell

Brewers' Scooter Gennett shares photo of nasty shower injury

WATCH: Fan at Pirates game hit by foul ball through netting

Hall of Famer Jim Palmer blasts David Ortiz over ejection

WATCH: President Obama leads 'O-H-I-O' chant

Fred Hoiberg shares video of him walking after heart surgery

DeAndre Jordan geeks out at Batman Exhibit

Philly welcomes Tim Tebow with 'tebowing' pretzel

Marshall Henderson trolls Erin Andrews over Stoll arrest

Steve Ballmer turned Lakers locker room into owner's lounge

Alex Rodriguez: Heir to the Empire

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Mayweather: I'm better than Ali

WATCH: Sapp talks prostitute arrest

Jim Palmer blasts David Ortiz

Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 car wins at Long Beach

Pat Riley takes shot at LeBron?

Philly welcomes Tim Tebow with 'tebowing' pretzel

Stop the Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady debate

Alex Rodriguez: Heir to the Empire

The Tim Tebow lottery ticket

If Tony Parker's not right, it's going to go wrong for Spurs

So the Mets might be contenders

Why Billy Donovan won't go to Oklahoma City

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.