Bruins Game 49 Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

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PHOTO CREDITS: (sportsnet.ca)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

With back-to-back losses against the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the week, the Boston Bruins look to get right back to their winning ways against the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bruins are still third in the National Hockey League with a 27-9-12 record, but have a 5-2-3 record in their last ten games played. Boston needs to start piecing together wins again in order to remain atop the standings.

Pittsburgh has been one of the best teams in the league for well over the past decade and somehow, they have quietly done the same in 2019-20, winning four-straight games and having an 8-1-1 record in their last ten games to boost themselves to fourth in the overall standings. The Penguins have a 29-12-5 record and trail the Bruins by only three points with two games in hand.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Jaroslav Halak 10-6-5 2.49 GAA .919 SV% Last Game: 24 Saves in 3-0 loss vs CBJ

PIT: Matt Murray (Not Confirmed) 13-6-4 2.91 GAA .896 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 4-3 OT win vs COL

Who’s Hot:

Sidney Crosby had not played a game of hockey since November 9th, so the doubts of him playing at the same elite level were there, but he quieted all of them down. The 32-year-old superstar proved why he will go down as one of the greatest of all-time after scoring a goal and three assists for his first four-point night since March 2nd, 2019 against the Canadiens. Crosby now has 6-15-21 numbers in 18 games played this season.

Whenever David Pastrnak steps on the ice, especially when the Bruins are on the power-play, he is a threat to score. Even though he was held scoreless in the shutout loss to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday, he has five goals in his last five games including a hat-trick four games ago against the Winnipeg Jets. Pastrnak still leads the NHL in goals and has 36-33-66 numbers in 48 games this year.

Evgeni Malkin is commonly thought of as the wing man to Sidney Crosby, but in Crosby’s absence, he was deemed the leader of the team and he stepped up. Malkin leads the Penguins with 15-32-47 totals in 33 games played in ’19/’20 and is in the midst of a four-game point streak where he has accumulated 4-4-8 numbers. In Pittsburgh’s 7-3 win over the Wild, Malkin scored two goals and added an assist for a three-point night of his own.

Who’s Not:

In a league where depth scoring seemingly rules, the Boston Bruins need all four lines to produce consistently and for Sean Kuraly, consistency has been one of the biggest problems. Even with his sixteen points on the campaign thus far, he has only one point in his last seven games and has not scored a goal in sixteen consecutive games (Dec. 11 vs WSH). Bruins need more from Kuraly, even if he is a fourth-liner.

Matt Murray is likely getting the start in goal after back-to-back starts for Tristan Jarry early in the week and if he does, it might be a better chance for the Bruins to pick up the win. Even though he has three wins in each of his last three starts, he has allowed three, two, and four goals respectively in those starts. With a .896 save-percentage and a 2.91 goals-against-average, Murray has strides to improve his game this season.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • F David Krejci will play his 892nd career regular-season game, passing Terry O’Reilly (891) for 7th-most games played in Bruins history*
  • D Zdeno Chara is two penalty minutes away (1038) from passing Wayne Cashman (1039) for 6th-most PIM in Bruins history
  • F Brad Marchand is one game-winning goal away (55) from tying Cam Neely (56) for 5th-most GWG in Bruins history
  • F David Pastrnak is one hat-trick away (7) from tying Bill Cowley (8) for 5th-most hat-tricks in Bruins history

*F David Krejci (upper-body) is a game-time decision for tonight’s game vs PIT.

Pittsburgh Penguins:

  • D Jack Johnson is one point away (299) from 300 career NHL points
  • G Matt Murray is three saves away (5036) from passing Les Binkley (5038) for 5th-most saves in Penguins history
  • G Matt Murray is one shutout away (11) from passing Les Binkley (11) for sole possession of 3rd-most shutouts in Penguins history

Bruins vs Penguins Outlook:

Boston and Pittsburgh meet one another for three games a year and with Boston taking a 6-4 back on November 4th, the Penguins will look to even up the season series tonight before their final meeting of 2019-2020 this Sunday in Pittsburgh. The Bruins survived a strong four-goal second-period from the Pens in that first game to score three goals in the final period to pick up the win.

Taking a look at the speciality team battle, the Bruins on-paper take the win there. Boston has the third-best power-play percentage (27.3%) and the 7th-best penalty-kill percentage (83%) while the Penguins have the 17th-best man-advantage in the NHL (19.9%) and the 14th-best penalty-killing percentage at 81%.

Boston remains as the best team at home in the National Hockey League with a 15-2-9 record while inside the TD Garden. On the other side of it, the Penguins are a pretty decent road team – having a record of 12-7-2 during the season so far.

Bruins Roster Moves:

  • G Tuukka Rask (concussion) placed on injured-reserve, no timetable on return
  • G Dan Vladar recalled from Providence (AHL) on emergency basis
  • F David Krejci (upper-body) is a game-time decision
  • F Karson Kuhlman recalled from Providence (AHL)
  • F Brett Ritchie cleared waivers; will report to Providence (AHL)
  • D Matt Grzelcyk back in lineup, D Steven Kampfer is a healthy scratch
  • F David Backes had a maintenance day today

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

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The Week Ahead: Black Friday Madness

China Olympics Beijing Water Cube Bird's Nest

photo credit: Joseph Prezioso

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

The Bruins have gone 1-1-1 so far on their four-game road trip, but their record doesn’t reflect just how well they’ve held things together despite icing a defensive corps containing two National Hockey League regulars, one seventh defenseman, and three rookies who were called up from the AHL. The Black and Gold have also been missing their best player at both ends of the ice, perennial Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron, for most of the last two games.

Wednesday in Colorado, the Bruins were holding their own in a fun back-and-forth contest until captain Zdeno Chara left the game with a knee injury in the second period. Once Chara left the game, the wheels fell off, and the Bruins lost 6-3 after surrendering five unanswered goals. One plus from this game was that the secondary scoring was alive and well, with Jake DeBrusk potting two goals.

In Dallas on Friday,  John Moore was out of the lineup, on top of Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, Brandon Carlo, and Urho Vaakanainen. The Dallas game was poorly officiated, and on top of that, Patrice Bergeron was injured on an awkward hit by Radek Faksa. Tuukka Rask played a great game, but the Bruins couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket and lost 1-0 in overtime. The Stars got many opportunities to score, but between Rask and the patchwork defense, Dallas was unable to make it happen during regulation.

On Saturday night, the Bruins visited the Coyotes, who were quite fashionable in their 90s-chic Kachina jerseys (where were Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick, though?).  The B’s were able to net two goals in the first three minutes, most notably Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson’s first NHL goal. Jake DeBrusk scored within two minutes of JFK. It was nice to see someone score other than Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, or David Pastrnak, however, Bergeron being out of the lineup definitely had something to do with that. It was another game where the young defense helped hold it together, and the save of the game went to Jeremy Lauzon. Bruins won, 2-1.

Kevan Miller (hand) could be returning for the Detroit game on Wednesday night. We don’t have any news on John Moore or Patrice Bergeron yet, either.

Now, on to the next week of games…

November 21 @ Detroit:

The Detroit Red Wings are a shell of their former selves. They have a 9-9-2 record and a goal differential of -8. Currently, the Wings are in 7th place in our 8 team Atlantic Division and are 23rd in the National Hockey League, with 20 points on the season. Their special teams are better than their record would have one believing, as their power play is 11th in the league at 22.4%, and they have killed 81.3% of their penalties, good for 10th in the NHL.

Leading the way in scoring for the Red Wings is Dylan Larkin, with 8-11-19 totals in 20 games, followed by former Maine Black Bear Gustav Nyquist, who has scored two goals and assisted on 13, for 15 points on the season. Goaltending has been better than Detroit’s record would lead us to believe; Jimmy Howard has a save percentage of .922, with a GAA of 2.64. The Wings don’t take many shots – they are 27th in the league and are taking an average of 28.8 per game (just behind the Bruins at 26th, and 29.4 shots/game). However, they are allowing the third most shots per game, at 35.5.

The last time the two teams faced each other was October 13 at the Garden. David Pastrnak scored a hat trick, and the Bruins won 8-2. Detroit obviously wants that one back, and if they have any competitive spirit left in them, they will come out flying Wednesday night. Hopefully, all the Bruin cubs on defense will be ready for them.

November 23, vs. Pittsburgh:

The Bruins’ annual tradition of playing a matinee game on Black Friday while we all gorge ourselves on Thanksgiving leftovers has been squashed in favor of a more National TV-friendly schedule. For the second year in a row, they will face the Penguins at home that night.

Imagine having a roster with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel, and still being terrible? You don’t have to imagine it, though, because the Penguins have brought your imagination to life! Up to this point, Pittsburgh has been alarmingly bad, and have dropped 8 of their last 9 games. They are off to a 7-8-3 start and are 29th in the league in points. They are last in the Metropolitan Division, as well, but are only one point behind the struggling New Jersey Devils.

The Pens’ power play is converting at 25.7% and is seventh-best in the league. They’ve killed 80% of their penalties, which is 15th. Bruins are 29.8% (third), and 79.1% (18th), respectively. Evgeni Malkin is their scoring leader with 7 goals and 18 assists for 25 points in 18 games, and former Bruin and hot dog enthusiast Phil Kessel has notched 9-14-23 totals in 18 games. Sidney Crosby has missed two outings but still has 19 points in the 16 games he has played. Matt Murray, Pittsburgh’s number one goaltender, has been terrible this season, with a sub-.900 save percentage (.877!), and goals against average of 4.08. Woof. They do have themselves a bit of a goaltending controversy, as many people are calling for backup Casey DeSmith (.903 SV%, 2.25 GAA) to play more games. Sounds familiar. doesn’t it?

November 24th, @ Montreal:

The best rivalry in sports has died down a little bit given roster moves both teams have made, and the difference in their records the last few seasons. Max Pacioretty was traded to Vegas for Tomas Tatar, Alex Galchenyuk was swapped for Max Domi, who is apparently a number one center (who knew?!). Andrei Markov was sent packing a year ago for some reason, and Shea Weber is still injured. Nobody expected the Canadiens to be able to do anything this year.

Surprisingly, though, the Habs’ record is exactly the same as the Bruins: 11-6-3 with 25 points. The Canadiens have won their last two games after dropping one to Edmonton earlier this week. Montreal’s power play is 29th in the league, as is somehow only scoring 13.5% of the time. These are not the same Habs who embellish and roll around on the ice anytime an opposing player skated within ten feet of them, as their power play will get them nowhere. Their PK is 13th in the league at 80.9%. These are not the numbers we are used to seeing with the Habs. This is a whole new team.

Max Domi has scored 10 goals and assisted on 14, good for 24 points in the first 20 games. This is a record for the Canadiens, which seems bizarre given their history. Tom Tatar and Jonathan Drouin are tied for second on the team with 17 points apiece. Defenseman Jeff Petry is having a solid offensive season, having scored 15 points already. – not too shabby.

In continuing with the theme of “Everything In Montreal Is Weird This Season”, the Habs’ goaltending has been terrible – really, really bad. Carey Price’s save percentage is only .904, and his goals-against average is 2.92. That’s pretty bad, but their backup, Antti Niemi, is even worse at .887 SV% and 3.74 GAA. Yikes! Price’s numbers may be on the upswing, though, as he’s stopped 79 of 83 shots in his last two starts, though that’s a lot of shots allowed over two games.

The answer for the Bruins will be to put as many pucks on net as possible and to create traffic in the crease. If the Bruins can do that while holding off Domi, Tatar, and Drouin, they can come out of Montreal on top.

Opponents like Detroit and especially Pittsburgh should not be overlooked, but there is no reason the Bruins can’t take at least four out of a possible six points in the next week. Not losing anyone else to injury, unfortunately, is probably the most important thing the Bruins can do this week.

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Bruins Pastrnak On Huge Scoring Rate

NELA5530.JPG(Photo Credit: Nancy Lane)

By: Ian Smith | Follow Me On Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

The Boston Bruins are about a 10th of the way through the season, and David Pastrnak looks like he might be in the midst of his best year. Through eight games, he has lit the lamp eight times and ranks tied for second in the league in goals, trailing only Auston Matthews and tied with Nathan MacKinnon.

The strong performance of Pastrnak thus far evokes the question of if he’s a viable candidate to lead the league in goals this season. From a pure talent perspective, the answer is a resounding yes. He has eclipsed 30 goals in each of the previous two seasons, and he blends his quickness with a natural scoring ability to create plenty of opportunities for himself.

He’s on pace for 82 goals as of now, and while that astounding rate isn’t going to keep up, it’s still extremely plausible that he can win the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer. Over the past five seasons, the eventual winner of the trophy has averaged about 49 goals, so Pastrnak has to get somewhere around 50 to have a decent chance at winning.

That means he has 74 games left to score 42 goals. He’s averaging about 4.1 shots on goal per game, and he’s on pace to send more shots on goal this year than he ever has as well. He has scored eight goals on 33 shots so far, which is a 24.2% shooting percentage. That far exceeds his career 13.8% and his single-season best of 14.2%, and it obviously going to dip a bit as the season goes on.

Over the previous five seasons, the eventual Rocket Richard Trophy winner has finished with a shooting percentage somewhere between 12.6% and 17.3% the season in which they won. Alexander Ovechkin has won the award four times in the past five seasons, with the other winner being Sidney Crosby in 2016-17.

Each season Ovechkin won the Rocket Richard Trophy he also led the league in shots on goal. When Crosby won it, though, he ranked only 14th in shots on goal. It took a higher shot percentage for Crosby at 17.3% to win the award, which is actually higher than Ovechkin has ever shot, and Ovechkin has won the Rocket Richard Trophy seven times in his career.

The last five Rocket Richard Trophy seasons have been won by sending an average of about 358 shots on goal that season. Throughout an 82 game season, that works out to about 4.4 shots on goal per game. If Pastrnak needs around 358 shots on goal to have a decent chance at winning the award, he needs to get 325 more shots on target this season.

It’s entirely conceivable that Pastrnak will play all 82 games this season. He did it last season, but it’s always a safe assumption that some games are missed here and there over the course of a grueling campaign. Maybe Pastrnak is going to play about 70 more games this season. In that scenario, he’d have to average about 4.6 shots per game for the rest of the way to get to that 358 total. If he does play all 82 games, that number will decrease to about 4.4 shots on goal from here on out.

Considering that Pastrnak is averaging 4.1 shots on goal per game so far, he needs to slightly increase that output to have a better chance of winning the Rocket Richard Trophy this season. He’s certainly in the discussion, though, and even if he doesn’t win the award, it’d be shocking based on how he’s playing right now if he didn’t set a career high this season in goals scored.

A Quick Look At The Bruins’ Bergeron/Marchand/Pastrnak Line

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Photo Credit: Jana Chytilova (Freestyle Photography)

By: KG                   Follow me on Twitter: @kgbngblog and on FanCred at K G

The Bruins are usually a team that gets overlooked when talking about bonafide superstars like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid. They may not have that one solo star, but they do have a full line of incredible hockey players. The Marchand/Bergeron connection was one that we knew of for a couple years, but with the recent continues addition of David Pastrnak to their line this year, they have been almost unstoppable. Their offensive output and defensive shut-down ability is something to marvel at.

The 63/37/88 line hasn’t played together the entire season. The first game that they were together as a line for a fair amount of time was on October 30th, ten games into the season. It had to happen because of injuries, but it worked out well for Bruce Cassidy. That stat is incredible. They have played the most of any Bruins line combination this season, and much of the success in Boston comes from the production of that line. Here’s an example of the heads-up play style the line is known for.

The three have a combined $19,666,666 cap hit (Worth 29.16% of Boston’s salary), with deals lasting until 2021-22 for Bergeron, 2022-23 for Pastrnak and 2024-25 for Marchand. All three players are in the top 100 for points in NHL. This means at least 5 more years of the domination of this line for the B’s unless some unforeseen event occurs. If this line is able to compete with other teams top pairings, the Bruins can continue their dominance. And with all of the rookies coming up to make the roster, there should be enough cap space for the Bruins management to work with for future deals.

 

Sources: CapFriendly.com, NHL.com, LeftWingLock.com

Follow KG on Twitter @KGbngblog and on FanCred at K G Like, share and comment your takes on the article

Boston Bruins: Why Stop at Six?

 

BOSTON, MA – APRIL 4: The Boston Bruins celebrate a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the TD Garden on April 4, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

 

By Spencer Lindsay                    Follow me on Twitter @suspenceful9

Last night, the Bruins crushed the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not only on the scoreboard, but they also made it near impossible for the Lightning to qualify for the postseason. For fans of other teams in the Eastern Conference, this should be a relief. We’ve seen Tampa Bay in the playoffs the last few years, and we know what they can do.

Not only did the Bruins knock off a legitimate playoff threat, but they also won their sixth game in a row, and perhaps most importantly, qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Something they had not done in the last two seasons. The regular season is not over yet though. The Bruins still have two very winnable games at home to close out the remainder of the 2016-17 season.


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On Thursday the Senators roll into town coming off a home and home with Detroit where they picked up three of a possible four points. Don’t let those results fool you though, this team is hurting and should be easy pickings for a Bruins team that is really feeling it right now. Ottawa is missing two of their top four defenders in Cody Ceci and Mark Methot. Ceci suffered a lower body injury during a 4-2 loss vs. the Winnipeg Jets, and Methot nearly had his finger chopped off by Sidney Crosby. Who incidentally did not receive a penalty on the play, or a phone call from the league. But that’s none of my business. The point is, Ottawa is hurt, the Bruins need to take advantage.

If the Bruins beat Ottawa that will give them 96 points on the season with one game left, and leave Ottawa with 94 points with 2 games left. Those two games being back to back against the Rangers and the Islanders, where I find it hard to believe that Ottawa will win one or both, putting the Bruins in a good position to take at least the third division spot.

That is assuming the Bruins take care of business against the Washington Capitals, which I think is completely possible. Not only will this game mean practically nothing to Washington as they will most likely clinch the president’s trophy in the next couple days (Pittsburg’s tragic number is down to 1), but Washington will also likely be resting some of their star players, in preparation for the playoffs.

So why stop at six? You have an injured Senators team and a Capitals team that’s probably not going to care about the game on Saturday. The Bruins absolutely need to take advantage of that fact. Especially when you think of standings. If the Bruins were to beat Ottawa Thursday, that would mean that the maximum amount of points Ottawa can finish the season with is 98. If both Ottawa and Boston finish with 98 points that guarantee Boston at least the third division spot and avoids a first round date with the Washington Capitals. So while the Bruins may have clinched a spot, the work is not completely done yet, they need to finish strong. And hey, eight wins in a row heading into the playoffs has a nice ring to it anyway, right?


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