Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (43-22-11, 97 points, 3rd place Metropolitan Division) @ Boston Bruins (45-24-5, 95 points, 4th place Atlantic Division)
When: 12:30 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: New England Sports Network for the home team (NESN), AT&T Sportsnet for the visitors (ATTSN-PT), NHL Network nationally
Opponent Track: The Bruins could have clinched a playoff spot in home games against the Blues on Tuesday or the Senators on Thursday, but they dropped both in regulation. They will now look to snap a three-game regulation losing streak— their longest in two years— when the Penguins come to town.
Pens Path Ahead: This is one of three remaining away games and six games left overall. After a rematch with the Bruins at home on Thursday, the Penguins battle the Red Wings and Flyers on the road before finishing the season against the Oilers and Blue Jackets at home.
Season Series: The Penguins and Bruins last met in Boston on February 8, when the Penguins overcame a two-goal deficit with three unanswered strikes to defeat the Bruins 4-2 in regulation.
SBN Counterpart Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder
—The Bruins are struggling with some significant losses to the lineup, including two of their top four defensemen (Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Carlo) and their leading goalscorer (David Pastrnak.)
—Without Pastrnak, the Bruins will lean on production leader Brad Marchand. He has 73 points (31-42—73) in 63 games, and ranks top-20 in the NHL with 91 penalty minutes.
Thursday Game Lines
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall - Erik Haula - Jesper Froden
Tomas Nosek - Charlie Coyle - Craig Smith
Nick Foligno - Marc McLaughlin - Curtis Lazar
Mike Reilly / Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk / Joshua Brown
Derek Forbort / Connor Clifton
Goalies: Jeremy Swayman (Linus Ullmark injured Thursday)
Scratches: Trent Frederic, Jack Studnicka, Anton Blidh, Jack Ahcan, David Pastrnak (day-to-day injury), Brandon Carlo (injury), Hampus Lindholm (injury)
IR: Jakub Zboril
—The Bruins are skidding. After a Thursday loss to the Senators that marked the team’s longest regulation losing streak (three straight games) in over two years, here’s what the team had to say, as per NHL.com:
“Frustration is a useless emotion, so I’m not frustrated. I want to correct things. We had some miscommunications on the bench tonight, we had some lack of focus, especially on the power play - going back to our own end there late, almost took ourselves out of the game…lack of finish with some guys, obviously, is hurting us right now - not shooting at appropriate time.
Certainly, some guys we rely on, on a regular basis every night, aren’t putting up the numbers right now for whatever reason. We’ll look a little closer at that. I don’t think it’ll go on forever, they’re too good. Some other lines need to get back to their game.” —head coach Bruce Cassidy
“I think maybe guys are just thinking a little too much. It’s something we’ve addressed in video quite a lot these last few days, last few weeks. Sometimes we are trying to find a seem that is not there and forcing plays a little bit. Maybe if we had a little more 5-on-5 mentality, get pucks in to the net, and play off the rebound, then that’s kind of when your skill takes over.” —defenseman Matt Grzelcyk
Advanced stats matchup
—Goaltending is already a relative weakness for the Bruins; with Linus Ullmark injured, the situation is even more tenuous as Boston waits to see if Jeremy Swayman can step up.
—On paper, the Bruins outclass the Penguins in everything except PK goals against, goaltending, and expected goals at 5v5. The latter stat would, of course, mean more if Pittsburgh wasn’t also ranked 30th in finishing.
And now for the Pens..
Projected Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker - Jeff Carter - Bryan Rust
Brock McGinn - Teddy Blueger - Danton Heinen
Evan Rodrigues - Brian Boyle - Kasperi Kapanen
Mike Matheson / Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin / John Marino
Mark Friedman / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Casey DeSmith, Louis Domingue (Tristan Jarry did not travel to Boston)
—Tristan Jarry got in a few ugly collisions during the Penguins’ Thursday clash with the Islanders. One of them may have left some lasting damage:
#Pens HCMS: “Would anticipate” Louis Domingue being recalled from WBS— Josh Getzoff (@PensJG) April 15, 2022
—With six games left, the Rangers (second place, Metro) are five points ahead of the Penguins, and the Capitals (second wild card, East) are five points behind. Playoff spots appear to be (tenuously) set— that’s a lot of ground to make up, with just 12 points available.
Scratches: Marcus Pettersson, Evgeni Malkin (game three of a four-game suspension)
IR: Nathan Beaulieu (LTIR)
Milestone and streak watch
- Sidney Crosby has eight points (3-5—8) in his last three games; Jake Guentzel has seven (4-3—7) in his last two.
- Guentzel is two points away from the first 80-point season of his career.
- Kris Letang is on his way to a career-high production total as well: four more will tie his career-high 67 points in 2015-16.