Now the games start to get interesting.
As they enter their post-Thanksgiving stretch, the Boston Bruins still sit on the outside looking in of a playoff spot – much like they did last year. The good news for the Black and Gold? They have a few games in hand on the rest of the Eastern Conference, including today’s opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Entering today, the two teams are trending in opposite directions. Anton Khudobin and the talented rookie core have backstopped the Bruins to three straight wins, while Sidney Crosby and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins are still trying to find their groove with Evgeni Malkin (day-to-day, upper body) out of the lineup.
Though the Bruins have their share of injuries still, some of the bodies are starting to heal. Ryan Spooner returned in the B’s 3-2 shootout win over the Devils after missing the last 14 games with a groin injury. Brad Marchand (upper body), Anders Bjork (upper body) and David Backes (diverticulitis) are all ruled out this afternoon, while Torey Krug (upper body) is a game-time decision. Both Marchand and Backes skated earlier in the week.
For a team that has found a little rhythm during their three-game streak, the Bruins can still use a clean bill of health. Today, however, they can get one step closer to being in the top three in the Atlantic Division with a win and a Red Wings loss to the Rangers later tonight.
Looking for affordable parking and to get and out quickly for Bruins-Penguins this afternoon? Then park at Constitution Wharf (1 Constitution Rd.) to take advantage of their $15 rate, while avoiding traffic and the Black Friday hassle outside of TD Garden. Tell them Bruins Daily sent you!
Gametime: 1:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NBC/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 9-7-4 (22 points), Penguins 11-9-3 (25 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Danton Heinen-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Peter Cehlarik
Riley Nash-Ryan Spooner-Frank Vatrano
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller
Rob O’Gara-Brandon Carlo
Penguins projected lines
Connor Sheary-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist
Bryan Rust-Jake Guentzel-Phil Kessel
Carl Hagelin-Riley Sheahan-Josh Archibald
Tom Kuhnhackl-Greg McKegg-Ryan Reaves
Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Olli Maatta-Justin Schultz
Matt Hunwick-Ian Cole
– Given the Penguins’ back to back Cup triumphs, the Bruins success against Pittsburgh might come as a surprise to some. Though they only took one of three meetings last season, the Black and Gold are 4-2 in the last two years against the Pens and have won three in a row at TD Garden. In their last 11 games, the B’s are 8-1-2 and are 5-0-1 in their last six at home with the Penguins’ last regulation win coming back on April 20, 2013. With a 4-4-2 mark in their last 10 and a two-game skid entering today’s matinee, the Penguins need to get some points against a Black and Gold squad nipping at their heels in the standings – with three games in hand.
– Aside from Charlie McAvoy, the hero of the 11th round shootout win on Wednesday, the Bruins rookies have had their shares of ups and downs that come with the territory of any first-year player. Given the performances of Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and Peter Cehlarik of late, the rookies are trending upward. Two of the aforementioned trio – DeBrusk and Heinen – carry multiple-game point streaks into today while Cehlarik is inserting himself nicely into the Bruins’ top six with the likes of Marchand and Anders Bjork out of the lineup. In front of a nationally televised audience, the kids would like nothing more than to continue their success and showcase their potential against the two-time defending champs.