Boston Bruins Host the Pittsburgh Penguins


Dec 7, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) is defended by Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) during the second period at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

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Tonight the Boston Bruins are going to be put to the test once again as they face one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins. When we think of the Penguins, the firs thing that comes to mind is Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, a scoring tandem that in years past has been unbeatable at full strength.  Fortunately for Boston, the past couple of seasons when they have played the Penguins, one or the other has been injured and the Bruins have only had to focus on containing one of the hot men.

Perhaps the biggest concern going into tonight’s game is the fact that the Bruins are missing their key defensemen. Zdeno Chara has always excelled when it comes to shutting down Crosby and taking away his scoring opportunities. Naturally when you pair the best defenseman in the league against the best scoring center, you’re going to have a gritty and entertaining game. However, Dougie Hamilton has stepped up to the plate and Dennis Seidenberg is no stranger to physicality either. However, the recovering Sedienberg will definitely be put to the test tonight as he goes up against some of the fastest and most talented forwards in the NHL.

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  • Perhaps the biggest moment between these two teams was in the Stanley Cup finals where the Bruins eliminated the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals with a 4-game sweep. They held Crosby scoreless and made Marc-Andre Fleury look like a rookie between the pipes, exploiting all of his weaknesses.  While the netminder seems to be unstoppable during the regular season, currently sporting 2.1 goals against average and .926 save percentage, come playoff time, he cracks. Fortunately for Boston, he’s coming off of two losses to the New York Islanders and will likely be frazzled heading into tonight’s game. If the Bruins can find a similar way to undress the goaltender like they did in the playoffs, they stand a good chance at being victorious.

    Injury Updates/Line Combinations

    Brad Marchand was back on the ice for the team’s practice today, but there was no sign of Chris Kelly or David Krejci. Given the absences and the recent call-ups of forwards David Pastrnak and Jordan Caron, the lines sported a bit of a different look than usual.

    Bruins Lines: (from morning skate)

    Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronReilly Smith

    Milan LucicCarl SoderbergLoui Eriksson

    Daniel PailleGregory CampbellSimon Gagne

    Jordan CaronAlexander Khokhlachev – David Pastrnak

    Defensive Pairings:

    Dennis SeidenbergTorey Krug

    Matt BartkowskiKevan Miller

    Joe Morrow – Dougie Hamilton

    Following the practice, Claude Julien announced that there would be a lot of game-time decisions, most likely in reference to Marchand, Pastrnak and Caron. Pre-game warm ups will be the indicator of who will be in and who will be watching from the stands. He also gave an update on Krejci;

    “From everything I’m being told, it’s not something that we’re going to have to manage all year.”(via Bruins Twitter account)

    The Penguins aren’t exactly littered with injuries like the Bruins, however they did get some emotional and saddening news last week about forward Pascal Dupuis. The veteran forward has been placed on the injured reserve list for the next 6 months or so while he takes blood thinners to get rid of a blood clot in his lung. The Penguins have been plagued with a multitude of serious injuries over the course of the past few seasons, from Crosby and his ongoing concussions, Kris Letang‘s stroke and Tomas Vokoun‘s blood clot.

    Game Plan

    Ever since Matt Cooke injured Marc Savard, the Bruins and Penguins have had a chip on their shoulder in every meeting. At first it was to exact revenge with Thornton dropping the gloves against the ‘reformed’ enforcer for the Pens, but the games always seem to carry more than that. Any time the Penguins and Bruins meet up the emotions seem to run high, though not quite as high as they do against the Canadiens (thankfully). Tonight both teams will be hungry for a win as they both come off of irritating losses to bitter rivals. So long as the Bruins are able to contain the Penguins top scorers like Crosby, Malkin and Kunitz, who has always been able to find a way to score against them, paired with the addition of Pastrnak and Marchand being re-inserted (hopefully) the Bruins stand a decent chance at victory tonight. They need to focus on playing for a full sixty minutes, shutting down their opponent, making clean transitions through the neutral zone and taking as many shots as possible. 24 goals through the first 19 games of the season simply isn’t cutting it anymore. They need to find their way and fast, especially against a quick team like Pittsburgh. One thing is for sure, if they don’t come out ready to play from the drop of the puck tonight, they are likely going to fall behind and have a difficult time coming back. It won’t be as ‘easy’ a comeback as it was against the Blue Jackets.