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Insider Only Game Day Buzz: Bruins have re-emerged as team to beat in Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins (16-7-1, 33 pts) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (16-7-4, 36 pts)

When: 7:08 p.m. | Where: Consol Energy Center
Referees: Dean Morton (36); Kevin Pollock (33) Linesmen Derek Amell (75); Jean Morin (97)

Game Day Buzz

Tonight marks a tremendous matchup between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins.
Pittsburgh boast the best record in the East with 36 points, while the defending champs are the hottest team in the league and are showing that they are deeper than last year.
The Bruins have re-emerged as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference and there’s not a team that matches up as a well against Pittsburgh as Boston does.
They are one of the few teams in the league who can come close to matching the Penguins strength down the middle and the Bruins are the best defensive team in hockey.
An emerging dynamic for the Bruins this season though is that they can put the puck in the net with the best of them. Boston ranks second in the NHL, averaging 3.42 goals per game and are first in the NHL, giving up just 2.08 goals against per game.
The Bruins went 2-1-1 vs. the Penguins in last season’s series but won both games in Pittsburgh, coming from two goal deficits in
both games for the wins. One game the Penguins surely remember was the Bruins scoring four unanswered goals in the final 3:23 of regulation time for a 4-2 win on Jan. 10, 2011.
A key matchup to watch is whether Pittsburgh can contain Boston’s ability to crash the net. The line of David Krejci (2G-3A-5pts ) Milan Lucic (2G-2A-4pts) and Nathan Horton (1G-3A-4pts) has combined for 13 points in their last two games.

Bruins by the Numbers

The Bruins have taken points out of their last 14 games at 13-0-1, including a ten-game win streak from Nov. 1-23 …It is their longest
point streak since they went 15-0-2 during a 17-game unbeaten stretch from Jan. 5-Feb. 13, 1983.
– They have outscored their opponents by a 63-26 margin during their current point streak and their last regulation losses came in
home-and-home setbacks to the Canadiens, 2-1 in Boston on Oct. 27 and 4-2 in Montreal on Oct. 29.
– The Bruins have won their last five road games with a 24-6 scoring advantage in those contests and three of the five coming by
shutout.
– With 85 goals scored and 51 allowed, Boston’s +34 GF/GA differential is 13 points higher than the next team (Detroit, +21).
– The Bruins did not suffer a regulation loss in the month of November with a 12-0-1 record and their 25 points in the month are their most since a 25-point March in 1978 in which they went 11-2-3 …It was their first full calendar month without a regulation loss since
finishing January, 1969 with a 10-0-4 record.
Tim Thomas, tonight’s starter has won a career-best nine straight starts with his last loss a 2-1 setback to Montreal on Oct. 27 and he was named the NHL’s Number One Star for the month of November….
Included in the win streak were shutouts in consecutive games for the fourth time in his career, an overall shutout streak of 145:00 and a road shutout streak of 234:12 which included three straight road shutouts. The last Boston goaltender to win ten straight games was Andy Moog from Feb. 27-Mar. 25, 1993.
Zdeno Chara has 4 goals and 5 points in his last seven games with 4 goals and 15 points in his last 15 contests.
– Chris Kelly has 5 goals, 2 assists for 7 points in his last seven games with 7 goals and 10 points in his last ten contests.
Brad Marchand has 8 goals and 15 points in his last 14 contests.
Tyler Seguin who leads the Bruins with 24 points, has 9 goals, 15 points in his last 15 games with 19 points in his last 18 games
– Seguin currently leads the NHL at +20 and has not had a minus game this season …Entering last night’s games, Bruins held the top
five spots on the plus/minus leaderboard with Zdeno Chara (+18), Brad Marchand and Chris Kelly (+16 each) and Patrice Bergeron
(+15) joining Seguin.

Pens Player Notes

– The Penguins are 5-1-1 with Sidney Crosby in the lineup and have outscored their opponents 25-16 during that span. Crosby has 28 points in 18 career games vs Bruins.
Evgeni Malkin has 10 goals and 20 points in 17 career games vs Bruins. Malkin and Crosby have combined for 48 points in 35 games. Crosby and Malkin each have four multiple point games since Crosby’s return, combined for 22 points in seven games this season.
– Defenseman Paul Martin has been relied upon heavily of late, averaging 28:00 minutes of ice time the last two games.
Pascal Dupuis enters tonights game with goals in four of his last five games, and ranks 3rd on the team with 21 points. In the Penguins 16 wins, Dupuis has 7 goals and 17 points.
– The Penguins 4th line of Craig Adams, Richard Park and Arron Asham have combined for 3 goals and 6 points in their last two games. Craig Adams had led the way with 2 goals and 3 points, scoring in back to back games. Park is questionable for tonight’s game

Pens Projected Lineup

Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Steve Sullivan – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Matt Cooke – Jordan Staal – Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
DEFENSEMEN
Brooks Orpik – Matt Niskanen
Paul Martin – Simon Despres
Alexandre Picard – Robert Bortuzzo
GOALTENDER
Marc Andre Fleury

Bruins Projected Lineup

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot – Chris Kelly – Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton
DEFENSEMEN
Zdeno Chara – Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg – Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference – Adam McQuaid
GOALTENDER
Tim Thomas

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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