When: November 10, 2010 | Where: CONSOL Energy Center
The Boston Bruins are playing with the sense of purpose that saw them lead the entire Eastern Conference during the 2008-09 season. Boston is seventh in the East as of Wednesday, having played at least three fewer games than the six teams above them.
7-7-1 (15 points)
8th Eastern Conference, 2nd Atlantic Division
2-4-0 Home, 5-3-1 Road
5-4-1 Last 10
7-3-1 (15 points)
7th Eastern Conference, 3rd Northeast Division
2-2-1 Home, 5-1-0 Road
7-2-1 Last 10
Pittsburgh is returning from a 2-2 road trip which at times saw them play less than .500 quality hockey. Wednesday’s game is the first match between the teams this season.
Boston is 5-1-0 on the road this season. Only Pittsburgh has more points on the road in 2010 (5-3-1).
The Penguins took 3 of 4 from Boston last season, including a couple of memorable matchups.
On November 14 of last year, Pittsburgh rallied to tie Boston on a Bill Guerin goal with less than one second left. Pascal Dupuis scored on a Tim Thomas misplay of the puck and Pittsburgh won 6-5 in overtime.
The March 7 game saw Matt Cooke crush Marc Savard with a hit to the head. Savard will miss tonight’s game, having played only during last year’s playoffs since the hit. Savard is still dealing with post-concussion syndrome as a result of the collision.
The March 18 game in Boston was billed to be a bloodbath, as players in the Boston locker room promised revenge for the Cooke hit. The Pens won 3-0, their first shutout of the season.
The Penguins outscored Boston 11-9 in those four games.
Boston is playing the best defensive hockey in the league, bolstered by the best goaltender and penalty kill in the NHL.
Tim Thomas is 7-0-0 in 8 starts. He was pulled in his most recent start, a 5-3 loss to Washington, after allowing 3 goals on 25 shots. Thomas is first in the NHL in goals against (1.04) and save percentage (.967 percent).
The defense in front of Thomas has been equally good. The Bruins are 2nd in the NHL in goals against (1.7 per game) and 1st on the penalty kill (92.9 percent). The Bruins have allowed only 3 power play goals this season.
The Bruins are also 7th in scoring at 3.0 goals per game. Their power play is 9th overall at 21.4 percent.
Pittsburgh has struggled to find consistency at home. The Pens have just two wins in six games at home this year. Boston is the first game in a stretch where the Pens will play 5 of 6 in Pittsburgh.
Statistically, the Pens are treading water. Pittsburgh is 14th in goals per game (2.8) and 21st on the man-advantage (13.3 percent). Overall, the Pens are 5-4-1 in their last ten games.
After allowing three or more goals in three straight games, Pittsburgh has fallen to 13th in goals against (2.6 per game), though the penalty kill remains strong at 87.5 percent, good for 6th in the league.
Brent Johnson will start for the Penguins. Johnson entered the Phoenix game in relief of Marc-Andre Fleury (2 goals on 5 shots) and stopped 22 of 23 en route to a 4-3 shootout win.
Johnson is 6-1-1 on the season. His 1.62 GAA is third among NHL starters, as is his .943 save percentage. Only Tim Thomas and Jaroslav Halak have posted better numbers so far.
Boston’s scoring has come primarily from David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. Horton, acquired from Florida during the offseason, leads the team in goals (6) and points (11) through 11 games.
David Krejci leads Boston in assists (8). Andrew Ference and Milan Lucic are tied with a team-best plus-5 rating. Zdeno Chara leads Boston with 33 shots on goal.
Patrice Bergeron has been the Bruins best player lately, recording 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 6 games.
Sidney Crosby is playing MVP hockey. Crosby leads the Pens in goals (9), assists (10), points (19), power play goals (4) and shots on goal (62). His 19 points are third in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin (20) and Steven Stamkos (24).
Crosby has recorded more than one point in three of his last four games.
Kris Letang leads the team in plus-minus (plus-7) and points among defensemen (13). His 13 points are second among NHL defensemen to Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit. The Penguins lead the NHL in points from defensemen, 37 in all.
Evgeni Malkin recorded a goal in Saturday’s win over Phoenix. Malkin is third on the team with 10 points in 14 games played. Traditionally, Malkin has owned Boston, netting 10 goals and 6 assists in 14 games against the Bruins.
Jordan Staal remains out for Pittsburgh.
Boston will be without Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome), Johnny Boychuk (broken arm), Marco > Sturm (knee) and David Krejci (concussion).
Chris Conner was recalled from Wilkes-Barre as a fallback player. A flu bug is circulating the Pens’ locker room, though no one has been ruled out for tonight’s game yet.
Mike Comrie missed Tuesday’s practice with the illness, though he participated in the morning skate. Conner and Comrie were the extra forwards in the morning skate.
It is expected that Eric Godard will dress tonight but that’s not set in stone.
Ben Lovejoy will replace Deryk Engelland as the 6th defenseman. Engelland has struggled of late, getting less than 7 minutes of ice time in the Phoenix game. Engelland leads the team with 40 PIM.
In the morning skate, Lovejoy and Alex Goligoski made the third defensive pairing. Brooks Orpik and Letang were the first unit, Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek playing together behind them.
Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Cooke – Malkin – Asham
Rupp – Letestu – Kennedy
Adams – Talbot – Godard
Orpik – Letang
Martin – Michalek
Goligoski – Lovejoy
Starting Goaltender: Brent Johnson
Milan Lucic – Patrice Bergeron – Nathan Horton
Mark Recchi – Blake Wheeler – Jordan Caron
Brad Marchand – Greg Campbell – Shawn Thornton
Danny Paille – Tyler Seguin – Michael Ryder
Zdeno Chara – Adam McQuaid
Mark Stuart – Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Hunwick – Andrew Ference
Starting Goaltender: Tim Thomas
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