The ABC Saturday afternoon hockey schedule continues this week with a potential Stanley Cup Final matchup as Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche host Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, with coverage beginning at 3 pm ET and simulcast on ESPN+.
To help get you ready for the game, we’ve put together a guide on all the key players to watch for each team, including in-depth statistical insights from ESPN Stats & Information, and more.
This season, ESPN+ will broadcast 75 exclusive regular-season games, with ABC and ESPN airing a combined 28 exclusive regular-season games for a total of 103 games. The complete broadcast schedule can be found here.
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3 p.m. ET | Watch live on ESPN+
Line: Colorado -140 | Over/under: 6
ESPN Power Rankings: 6
Leading scorer: Sidney Crosby, 71 points in 57 games
2021-22 record: 41-18-10, third in Metro division
The Penguins’ 22 road wins are tied for fourth-most in a single season in franchise history and are two away from tying the club record set in 1992-93 (24-15-3) and tied in 2010-11 (24-11 -6). Pittsburgh and Washington entered Friday tied for the highest road goal differential this season at +26.
Pittsburgh has scored a power-play goal in each of the past six games and is scoring on 37.5% of its chances (9-for-24). The Pens’ penalty kill has been strong all season, posting the second-best rate in the NHL at 85.6% behind only the Hurricanes (88.5%). It would be the team’s fourth-best rate in a single season since the stat was first tracked in 1977-78.
Sidney Crosby got going starting on Nov. 27 with a three-point game against Montreal and hasn’t stopped since. His 68 points since Nov. 27 are tied with Johnny Gaudreau for third-most in that span and trails only Jonathan Huberdeau (74) and Auston Matthews (69). If Crosby finishes the season averaging 1.00 points per game, he’ll tie Gordie Howe for the second-most such seasons all time with 17, trailing only Wayne Gretzky (19 seasons).
Kris Letang’s 59 points are fifth-most among defensemen this season. His next point will give him the second 60-point season of his career (67 in 2015-16) and he would join Mark Giordano in 2018-19 as the only defensemen age 34 or older in the past 10 seasons with a 60-point campaign.
Evgeni Malkin has a point in six straight games. His 17 goals since making his season debut on Jan. 11 are second on the Penguins in that span, trailing only Crosby’s 20. Malkin scored the game-winning goal in OT on Thursday, his 78th game winner of his career, which tied Jaromir Jagr for most in franchise history.
Rickard Rakell came to the Penguins via a trade-deadline deal with the Ducks, and has three goals and five points in six games in Pittsburgh. Rakell’s 19 goals this season leaves him one shy of his first 20-goal season since 2017-18 (34 with Anaheim). Last season, the Pens added Jeff Carter at the deadline and he scored nine goals in 14 games after the deal.
ESPN Power Rankings: 1
Leading scorer: Nazem Kadri, 83 points in 65 games
2021-22 record: 48-14-6, first in Central division
Colorado has scored a power-play goal in each of its past nine games, tied for the second-longest streak in the NHL this season with Toronto from Dec. 4 to Jan. 8, and one shy of tying the longest streak in the league this season (Edmonton: 10 from Oct. 13 to Nov. 5). The Avs converted 37% of their power plays in March (17-for-46), highest rate in the NHL, raising their season rate to 25.4%, which is fifth-best in the NHL. Equally strong lately has been their penalty kill, clicking at a league-best 90.6% since March 10 (killed 29-of-32 opposing power plays).
The Avalanche have five players averaging better than 1.00 points per game this season: Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog. No team has done that (min. 50 GP) in a season since the 1995-96 Penguins had six with Ron Francis, Jagr, Mario Lemieux, Petr Nedved, Tomas Sandstrom and Sergei Zubov.
The Avalanche’s real struggles come in the faceoff circle, ranking 31st at 46.9% and ahead of only the Sabers (46.1%). Their defensive zone win percentage also ranks 31st, at 45.8%, ahead of only the Rangers (45.3%).
Cale Makar leads all defensemen with 24 goals and already has the Avalanche single-season record for defenseman goals. His next assist will tie Ray Bourque (52) in 2000-01 for second-most by a defenseman in a single season in team history, and leave him only behind Steve Duchesne (62) in 1992-93 (for the Quebec Nordiques). Makar’s 75 points are second among defensemen this season behind Roman Josi’s 81. They are second-most in a single season in Avs history and are seven away from tying Duchesne’s record of 82 in that 1992-93 campaign.
Nazem Kadri leads the Avs in scoring with 83 points, which is 22 more than he ever scored previously in a season in his career. His 83 points are currently second-most among players who can become an unrestricted free agent this offseason (Johnny Gaudreau of the Flames has 91).
If Nathan MacKinnon maintains a 1.30 PPG average for this season, he will be the fourth time he’s done so in his career, which would tie him with Alex Ovechkin for the third-most such seasons in the salary cap era (since 2005-06) and trail Connor McDavid (6) and Crosby (5, including this season).