When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, NESN in Boston
Opponent Track: As mentioned in the Sunday Standings, it’s been rough for the Bruins as of late. They were just 1-2-1 last week, and 3-4-2 since their outdoor game in late February. Boston has scored two or fewer goals in six of those last nine games since the Lake Tahoe game, the offense drying up has been a major issue for the Bruins.
Pens path ahead: It’s a quick turnaround to another Pens/Bruins game tomorrow night. Then the Pens will play their first games of the season against the Devils, playing in New Jersey both on Thursday and Saturday and the Devils come to Pittsburgh next Sunday for a back-to-back.
Season Series: Boston won 3-2 in OT back on January 26th in the first game of the season. And then on January 28th the Bruins took a 4-1 decision. After the games tonight and tomorrow the Pens and Bruins will meet up again in Boston on April 1st and 3rd. Boston comes back to Pittsburgh on April 25th and 27th.
Recent History: The home team has absolutely dominated the Pens/Bruins games as of late. The Pens are 0-8-2 in their last ten games in Beantown. However, the script flips when the games are at PPG Paints Arena. The Pens have won their last six games against the Bruins in Pittsburgh, and the Pens are 10-2-1 in the last 13 games played in Pittsburgh.
SBN Team Counterpart: Check out Stanley Cup of Chowder for the latest news to know about the Sabres. Did we miss the boat by only having a one word blog name? Idk, random though. All these other blogs are longer.
Player Stats at a Glance
—The good news: Boston’s top line of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak has been their typical dominant, productive selves. The bad news: just about no one else is.
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron- David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork - David Krejci - Nick Ritchie
Jack Studnicka - Charlie Coyle - Craig Smith
Trent Frederic - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk / Charlie McAvoy
Urho Vaakanainen / Connor Clifton
Jarred Tinordi / Jakub Zboril
Possible starting goalie: Jaroslav Halak
Scratches: Dan Vladar
IR: Ondrej Kase, John Moore, Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller, Jeremy Lauzon, Zach Senyshyn
COVID Protocol: Jake DeBrusk
—Marchand was ‘banged up’ after Thursday’s game but managed to play on Saturday, so guessing he’ll be good to go this week. He did take two penalties and was a -2 in the loss against the Rangers on Saturday.
—Remember when the Pens defense was decimated with injuries? That’s pretty much Boston now, with four blueliners on the IR, all of which are fairly important players for their team. As we saw firsthand, it’s tough to keep winning with so many useful players on the IR list.
—The goaltending situation is a tough one right now too. Tuukka Rask got injured last week (he did serve as backup on Saturday, however). The Bruins have Jaroslav Halak as a more than capable veteran backup but this situation could come to a head tomorrow on the back-to-backs. Might the Bruins have to play a possibly less than 100% healthy Rask? Or turn to what could be a tired older goalie in Halak? Or a relative unknown in Dan Vladar? Any possibility seems pretty good for the Pens, on paper at least. But that’s for tomorrow’s game.
Concerns in Boston
There’s a lot of troubles in Beantown. Take this article from March 11th entitled “Time is ticking on the Bruins’ 2021 season and decisions need to be made” from SCoC. And you thought being dramatic less than halfway through a season while dealing with significant injury issues was only for the Penguins!
Through 23 games, the Bruins have been outstanding at keeping the puck of their own net 5v5 and while shorthanded, which is pretty remarkable given their turnover on defense and the injuries they’ve had to deal with.
But on the offensive side of the game, things are not going so well.
The Bruins once again are struggling to score at even strength, with just 44 goals (fourth worst in the league) and only 181 high-danger scoring chances (third worst in the league).
This is not a new problem either, as last year they were pretty much in the same place when it came to even-strength goals and the amount of quality scoring chances they were generating.
What is new, at least over the last month or so, is that Boston’s power play is also struggling.
The Bruins have scored just one power play goal in their last seven games, and just six power play goals in their last 15 games.
Clearly it’s no secret that the Bruins are struggling to score goals.
However, not all the blame can be put on the forwards.
Outside of Charlie McAvoy, the Bruins are getting very little offensive contribution out of the d-men, and this goes beyond points as well.
The Bruins defense struggles at times to make good outlet passes to their forwards, limiting opportunities for transition offense, including odd-man rushes.
While the lack of scoring is not a new problem for the Bruins, it’s one they can no longer ignore; in fact, Don Sweeney came out on Wednesday and said “it’s a major concern for us.”
Getting shutout by the Rangers on Saturday night can’t make matters much better.
And now for the Pens..
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Evan Rodrigues - Evgeni Malkin - Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Colton Sceviour - Mark Jankowski - Anthony Angello
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Mike Matheson / Cody Ceci
Marcus Pettersson / Chad Ruhwedel
Possible starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
Scratches: Sam Lafferty, Juuso Riikola, John Marino
IR: Jason Zucker, Mark Friedman, Jared McCann
Taxi Squad: Yannick Weber, Frederick Gaudreau, Maxime Lagace
The Pens had an off day yesterday, we’ll see if Marino can return to the lineup. It seems like he is getting closer. Update: per Mike Sullivan, no Marino tonight.
Kings of the Paint Can
The Pens have been awesome this year at home with a 11-2-0 record at PPG Paints Arena. From the team’s PR arm, here’s some more information about the Pens home dominance:
Pittsburgh has found tons of success here at PPG Paints Arena through the first two-plus months of the season, winning 11 of its first 13 games (11-2-0). The Penguins 11 wins at home trail only the New York Islanders (12) for most home wins in 2020-21, while the team ranks among the top-10 in multiple other categories:
Category Total Rank
Wins 11 2nd
Points Percentage .846% 4th
Goals For/Game 3.77 T-3rd
Goals Against/GM 2.54 T-10th
Power Play % 25.8% 10th
Goal Differential 16 5th
A win today would give the Penguins their second four-game winning streak at home this season (also Jan. 17-Feb. 14, 5-0-0).
Evgeni Malkin has points in each of his last seven home games (2G-8A), while Sidney Crosby enters tonight’s game with points in six straight home contests (3G-6A).