Pregame Notes: Bruins vs Penguins – 03/15/21

(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21

The Bruins have been in the habit as of late of not being able to string together consecutive well-rounded wins. That was the case this past Saturday, as the Bruins got decimated by the New York Rangers by a score of 4-0 after beating them 4-0 last Thursday. Consistency is key for the Bruins at this point, as they’re heading into a matchup tonight against a hot Pittsburgh Penguins team that’s hungry for a playoff spot. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm EST.

Staying Out of the Box

The Bruins have the best penalty-killing unit in the league this season, killing 89.4% of the penalties they commit. Bruins forwards Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron even worked together for a spectacular short-handed tally in their win last Thursday. Either way, the Bruins can’t continue to play a good portion of the game shorthanded while still taking advantage of every opportunity they get to win. On Saturday, the Bruins committed five penalties, and they’ll need to limit those tonight against a fiery Penguins power play.

One of the few bright spots from the Bruins among their inconsistent efforts in their last few games has been their penalty-killing, and above all else, staying out of the box and playing five-on-five hockey will be their best key to success. The Bruins need to find consistency playing at even-strength. Besides, it wouldn’t be smart of them to take a good chunk of unnecessary penalties against a team led by none other than Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

DeBrusk In

Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk finally broke out of his season-long slump in last Thursday’s win against the Rangers, one game after being scratched by head coach Bruce Cassidy. He garnered a goal playing with David Krejci and Nick Ritchie. Saturday, however, before the afternoon game time, DeBrusk was put on the COVID-Protocol list, which ruled him out for Saturday’s game. However, he was removed from the list this morning, participated in the morning skate, and is expected to be in the lineup tonight against the Penguins.

In 18 games this season, DeBrusk has two goals and four assists to go along with a +/- of -3. David Krejci also got on the scoresheet for his first of the season in last Thursday’s win, so both Bruins forwards will be looking to continue building on the chances they’ve gotten after an embarrassing effort on Saturday. DeBrusk is expected to skate tonight primarily with David Krejci and Craig Smith.

Halak Holding On

Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak is expected to make his fourth straight start tonight, with Tuukka Rask still sidelined due to a “lingering” injury. Halak has gone 1-1-1 in his last three games, with his one win being a 27-save shutout against the New York Rangers last Thursday. Halak has played well throughout this stretch, but the Bruins forwards haven’t consistently helped him. The Bruins have scored five goals in their last four games, with four of them coming in their win from last Thursday.

Both Halak and the Bruins can’t wait to have Rask back from injury, especially with the playoffs drawing closer, but Halak has put up Vezina nomination-caliber numbers so far this season that shouldn’t be overlooked. In 11 games this season, Halak is 6-3-2 with a 2.07 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

Bruins Projected Lines

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Smith

Ritchie – Coyle – Bjork

Frederic – Kuraly – Kuhlman

Grzelcyk – McAvoy

Zboril – Clifton

Tinordi – Kampfer

Halak

Vladar

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