The Boston Bruins (27-13-6, 60 points) will try to bounce back from one of their 6-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres and start a new win streak when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins (31-14-3, 65 points) at 3 PM on NBC.
This is the first of a two-game set in Pittsburgh for the Bruins who are still trying to catch and surpass two of the Penguins, Washington Capitals, or New York Islanders for one of the top 2 playoff slots in the East Division. The next two games in Pittsburgh are the final two times the Boston Bruins and Penguins will meet head-to-head in the regular season. The Bruins have gone 4-2 against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins this season.
For the Bruins, the biggest question mark coming into this big tilt in Pittsburgh is whether Crosby’s buddy and Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron will be able to suit up and play? Bergeron was a late scratch just before warmups prior to the 6-4 loss to the Sabres on Friday night.
“Lower body. He’ll be day-to-day until we hear differently. He’s our No. 1 center, so he obviously plays in a lot of different situation,” Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the loss Friday. “He’s a big facet in every part of our game, but there are other guys that are certainly capable. I’m not going to sit here and say we lost the game because Patrice Bergeron isn’t in our lineup.”
If not the Bruins will have to adjust to having their captain out of the lineup for the second time this season. Either way, they will have a change between the pipes as rookie Jeremy Swayman gets the nod again. Swayman continues to impress and is off to a 5-1-0 start to his NHL career with a 1.65 GAA and .943 save percentage.
-In addition to Bergeron, defenseman Brandon Carlo and forward Ondrej Kase remain home recovering from upper-body injuries and are still listed as week-to-week.
-Is the Bruins third line about to get hot? Nick Ritchie has a goal in each of his last two games after going ten games without lighting the lamp. Jake DeBrusk has an assist in each of his last two games after going pointless for seven games, but Charlie Coyle has just one assist in his last seven games. If Coyle can find his game and that line starts clicking, that could be huge both in the present and the future.
–The Bruins’ powerplay went 0-for-1 on Friday. They are now 29-for-139 on the man advantage this season. They’re 11th in the NHL with a 20.9 % success rate.
-The PK had a rare bad night on Friday, allowing the Sabres to score on two of their three powerplays. They’re no longer the best penalty kill in the NHL as they sit second behind the Vegas Golden Knights with an 85.7% success rate. They’ve killed off 137 of 161 powerplay attempts against them this season.
-The Penguins have been a wagon as of late, winning four of their last five games and with their win over the New Jersey Devils Saturday, they leapfrogged the New York Islanders for second place in the East Division.
“We’re right there. I don’t think we want to look too far ahead, though. I think we’re just taking that game at a time,” Crosby said following the win Saturday. “The important thing is to win games, to get points. And if that’s the case, then that’s the case. But I think we’re just we’re trying to make sure that we play well here and see where that puts us.”
-The Penguins powerplay is ranked eighth in the NHL with a 23.3 % success rate.
-The Penguins penalty kill might be their only weak spot right now as they ranked 23rd in the NHL with a 77.6 % success rate.
Boston Bruins Lines
Note: The forward lines are the multiple scenarios that could happen as a result of Bergeron playing or not.
Brad Marchand – Charlie Coyle/Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall – David Krejci – Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie – Curtis Lazar/Charlie Coyle – Jake DeBrusk
Sean Kuraly/Anton Blidh – Sean Kuraly/Curtis Lazar – Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly – Kevan Miller
Jeremy Lauzon – Steven Kampfer
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines