By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21
The Bruins head into tonight’s contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins after fending back from a 4-2 deficit against the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night. The Bruins scored two straight to tie it up, including a goal from Matt Grzelcyk with just under four minutes to go in regulation. They capped off their night in the shootout for their first victory against the Devils since opening night. Tonight, they’ll have a much more intense opponent in the Penguins, who are currently tied for second in the MassMutual East Division. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm EST.
The Bruins gave a tremendous third-period effort to earn two points against the Devils on Tuesday, but they made some costly mistakes along the way. Most notably, two of the Devil’s goals resulted from abysmal breakout execution from Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon. He returned to the lineup this past weekend after missing four weeks with a broken hand, but this was one game he’d wish to forget. Lauzon’s mistakes were part of the story in the team’s sub-par start.
The Devil’s first goal was a result of Lauzon forcing the puck up the middle of the ice to Patrice Bergeron, who missed the pass. The puck went right to Devils defenseman PK Subban, who corralled it down low to forward Miles Wood. The Devil’s third goal resulted from Lauzon forcing a pass right off of a defensive zone face-off, with the puck landing right on Devils forward Kyle Palmeri’s stick. That’s two goals the Bruins won’t be able to bury themselves out of against the Penguins tonight. The team will need to keep their mistakes to a minimum against the dangerous Penguins squad.
Vladar Looks to Stay Sharp
After rolling with Halak in the net for Tuesday’s game, the Bruins will turn to Dan Vladar as the starting goaltender for tonight’s game. Halak was hung out to dry on a lot of the Devils prime opportunities, yet Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy hinted that Halak would split starts with Vladar anyways while Rask is still sidelined. Vladar’s last game was a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres last Saturday. Before that, Vladar’s first start of his career was a 2-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 16th.
Vladar’s start against the Penguins just over two weeks ago was a brilliant performance for the 23-year-old net-minder. He made 34 saves on 35 shots, including a miraculous paddle save on Penguins forward Colton Sceviour. In two appearances this season, Vladar is 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA, and a .952 save percentage. While that is a minimal sample size for the 6’5″ goaltender, Vladar solved the Penguins fiery offense once and will look to do the same again tonight.
Bergeron vs Crosby
Two of the league’s best two-way centers match up against one another for the fifth time this season. Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collectively share an impressive list of statistics and accomplishments as two of the best players of this era. Tonight, it’ll be the two captains leading their teams into battle and fighting for playoff positioning, with the regular season nearing an end within the next several weeks. The spotlight is on them in a game that’ll surely carry a playoff-like atmosphere with it.
Together, the two captains have a total of four combined Stanley Cup victories and countless other deep playoff runs. They share the same home roots on Canadian soil, and both held a spot on the gold-medal-winning team from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Folks who remember Crosby’s “Golden Goal” in overtime in the championship game against Team USA also remember Bergeron was a part of it all. Tonight, the two face off against one another once again instead of with one another as two of the best centers of the game.
Bruins Projected Lineup
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Ritchie – Krejci – Smith
Bjork – Coyle – Senyshyn
Blidh – Frederic – Kuhlman
Lauzon – McAvoy
Grzelcyk – Carlo
Zboril – Clifton