Gameday #27: v. Boston Bruins

penguinsvsbruins

 

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS v. Boston Bruins

Consol Energy Center, 7:30 PM, Root Sports, NBC Sports (local blackout)

Tonight is as big of a game as you can have at the midpoint of any season. Literally everyone views the Bruins as the best team in the East this year. Now is the time for the Penguins to make a real challenge to that. Whoever wins tonight will be in first place in the Conference, that’s no big deal if you’re the Bruins, but the Pens haven’t reached the peak since the first weeks of the season.

Its funny, seems like each division has two elite teams, and each one is geared a certain way: the Bruins and Pens are those teams in the East. The Bruins are bullies, they play shutdown in front of their net, they check relentlessly, and they get away with a lot of borderline calls. By contrast the Pens are scorers, certainly questions remain as to whether they can win a close checking contest but they are playing at the peak of exciting hockey. In the most recent power rankings, the people at NHL.com and the NHL Network believe that the West, the Ducks and the Hawks, are still on top. A great battle tonight could help to reset the balance.

Speaking of the Penguins scoring so much, Elliotte Friedman called them out for not caring about defense:

22. Despite all of the offence, coach Dan Bylsma has taken great pains to show the Penguins video of goals they scored from getting the puck deep in the offensive zone and winning battles there. There’s a still a mindset problem in Pittsburgh — they can outscore you and they know it. Trouble starts when they make mistakes carrying the puck in neutral ice.

Actually a lot of really good stuff in that 30 Thoughts segment, from Geno’s contract situation, to some faint praise for Tomas Vokoun, read it here if you’re bored.

The Bruins played last night and beat the Senators 3-2 in the shootout. Tuuka Rask was in the cage last night but nobody is confident whether it will be him or whoever their backup is now in the cage tonight. The Bruins didn’t take a morning skate so hopefully that suggests they are in bad shape for tonight.

The Pens are expected to roll with the exact same lineup from Sunday except with MAF in the cage.

Probably the toughest, most important week of the year starts today. Go Pens.

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