The struggling Boston Bruins (14-7-4, 32 pts, .640 %) will try to rebound from their Saturday 4-0 no-show to the New York Rangers Saturday against the scorching hot Pittsburgh Penguins (17-9-1, 35 pts .647 %) who come into tonight’s East Division tilt winners of five straight games.
The Boston Bruins enter tonight’s game 2-2-1 in their last five games and seemingly searching for their identity again. While some injury setbacks have clearly had an effect on the Bruins recent stretch of mediocrity, head coach Bruce Cassidy hasn’t held back when calling out his team for their inconsistent effort or lack thereof.
“At the end of the day, I think it goes to a number of things. But however, you rate those things or stack them up, it’s unacceptable. Your effort has to be there every night,” said Cassidy after the debacle against the Rangers Saturday. “Effort and execution fall on the players and it was not there and that’s atypical of this group. So that’s probably the most disappointing thing today is our complete lack of effort and pushback.
You can have a ‘B’ game, you’re not always going to have your ‘A’ game. But you better bring your damn ‘B’ game and at least do something to help the team win. We just didn’t have that. We were well down the alphabet after ‘A’ and ‘B’ tonight, unfortunately.”
Thankfully, with the exception of the 7-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Feb. 25 and the 6-2 loss to the Rangers on Feb. 26, goaltending hasn’t been an issue during the Bruins’ rough patches this season. That’s why Cassidy is confident in having to turn to Jaro Halak (6-3-2, 2.07 GAA. .922 save percentage), recently while Tuukka Rask has been out the last three games. Despite the lackadaisical play in front of him, Halak has held strong and is the reason the Bruins have grabbed points in two of those three Rask-less games going 1-1-1.
The Penguins will turn to Tristan Jarry (11-7-1, 3.00 GAA, .901 save percentage) in nets. Jarry has won his last three starts and appears poised to seize the nets once again for the Penguins.
-On Monday’s Zoom call with the media, reporters were not shy in asking Boston Bruins Captain Patrice Bergeron how, in his first season as captain, he’s been navigating through the more frequent peaks and valleys in this COVID-shortened and unique season?
“It’s important to have a lot of conversations with the players,” Bergeron told RDS Reporter Chantal Machabée. “The solution is within the locker room. We have to find these solutions. When you talk to each other, you realize that you have to roll up your sleeves, work harder and get results. Most of the time, you have to simplify things, come back to basics and most of all, have fun, play for the love of the game, the passion, and transpose it on the ice.”
Note: Merci to Chantal for translating Bergeron’s answer and sending it to BHN via email!
-Dan Vladar will back up Halak for a fourth straight game as Tuukka Rask continues to be out with a “lingering issue” that came about at the end of the Bruins’ 1-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils on March 7. Rask is on the four-game road trip with the Bruins and was skating Monday after the Bruins’ game day skate. Cassidy confirmed again Monday though, that either Jeremy Swayman or Vladar will start the second of the back-to-back tomorrow night.
“[Rask] is on the ice with the taxi squad getting some work in,” Cassidy said Monday afternoon. “I don’t know what he’ll be able to do since it’s his first time back, but he’s out there. Tonight, Halak is in. Right now, it will be Vladar or Swayman [on Tuesday]. We’ve discussed both of those options and we’ll make a decision in the morning”
-As for the rest of the Bruins’ MASH Unit, defensemen Jeremy Lauzon (broken hand) remains on injured reserve; Brandon Carlo (concussion) is week-to-week and fellow rearguard Kevan Miller is on the trip and skating but will not play tonight and likely tomorrow. Forwards Zach Senyshyn and Ondrej kase are both on injured reserve with upper body injuries.
–The Bruins’ powerplay was invisible Saturday as they went 0-for-5 against the Rangers. They are now 17-for-71 on the man advantage this season. They’re 12th in the NHL with a 23.9 percent success rate.
-Other than Halak, the Boston Bruins PK was the only bright sport killing off all five Rangers powerplays. The penalty kill remains the best in the NHL with an 8948 percent success rate. They’ve killed off 76 of 85 powerplay attempts against them.
-First off! Be sure to follow our colleague Dan Kingerksi and Pittsburgh Hockey Now for up-to-date Pens news during this two-game set and always!
-Speaking of Dan, in his preview for tonight’s game, he reminded us of just how good Sidney Crosby is against the Boston Bruins.
‘Sidney Crosby has 56 points (14g, 42a) in 44 career games against the Bruins, including 16 points (3G-13A) over his last 14 games. No active player in the NHL has more points against Boston than Crosby’
-Also, from Dan, the Penguins begin their third set of back-to-back games this season. They’re scheduled to have nine sets of back-to-back games in 2020-21. Thus far, the Penguins are 3-1-0 in back-to-backs (2-0-0 the first night; 1-1-0 the second night).
-The Penguins have the second most goals in March with 29 in seven games.
-Forwards Jared McCann (upper-body), Jason Zucker (lower-body) and Mark friedman are on injured reserve and defenseman John Marino (upper-body) is day-to-day.
Boston Bruins Lines
Nick Ritchie – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Charlie Coyle
Anders Bjork – Jack Studnicka – Craig Smith
Trent Frederic – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy
Jakub Zboril – Connor Clifton
Jarred Tinordi – Urho Vaakanainen
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines