Tonight the Northeast Division leading Bruins skate into Pittsburgh to take on the Atlantic Division leading Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins lead the Eastern Conference by three points over the Bruins.
During the Bruins magical run in November, and the early stages here in December, one can say the Bruins haven’t beat any of the top teams in the NHL, which to an extent is true, so Chris Kelly and his Bruins know that tonight will be a nice challenge for the team.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us. They are playing extremely well” said Kelly after the Bruins 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night. “They have their best player back [Sidney Crosby] and he seems like he hasn’t missed a beat. It will be an exciting game for us.”
Both the Penguins and Bruins are clicking on all cylinders right now making tonight’s game a must watch. The Bruins roll into Pittsburgh tonight winners of three straight and 13 of their last 14. The Penguins are on a nice roll themselves as they have lost just twice in their last seven.
A win in Pittsburgh could put the Bruins within a point of the Penguins, and David Krejci knows how important that is to the Black and Gold.
“Like I said, we want to get up there in the standings and this is a game for first place so it’s going to be a big one” said Krejci who has five points in his last two games. “We know what we have here in this dressing room and we just want to get up there on Monday and get a win, get first in the conference.”
Just like his Bruins, Claude Julien knows that the Penguins are a deep hockey team and get consistent scoring from all their lines. Top stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin loom on the top two lines, but it’s the third line that has caught Julien’s attention.
“When you’ve got Staal playing on that line, it says a lot about their depth,’’ said the Bruins bench boss “They’re a pretty good team. The coach has done a pretty good job of balancing his lines, finding guys to play with Crosby, and being able to separate those two – Crosby and Malkin.”
With the return of Crosby (10 points in seven games) a lot of people are labeling the Penguins as the team to beat in the East, but Arron Ashem says, not so fast.
“Right now, they’re the team to beat, not us. We were out in the first round [of the 2011 playoffs] and they won the Stanley Cup.”