Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Penguins
The trying times continue for the Boston Bruins as they match up with Sidney Crosby and company. Yet the injury-plagued B’s sit six points ahead over a disappointing Penguins squad entering their Black Friday tilt.
The Bruins will have another body back on the blue-line, however, as John Moore (lower body) returns following a three-game absence. Bruce Cassidy can use all the help he can get against a Pittsburgh squad that sits fifth in average goals per game (3.45). The usual suspects — Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel — are each averaging over 1.25 points per game.
Lightning the lamp isn’t the Penguins’ issue. Keeping pucks out of the net is. The Pens average the eighth most goals against per game (3.25). Matt Murray is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. Casey DeSmith has shown some flashes of solid play including his recent outing against Dallas where he held Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and company to one goal on 20 shots.
The goal scoring has also been hard to come by for the Black and Gold since Patrice Bergeron’s injury. The return from their recent road trip having scored only seven goals in that four-game span, including four in their last three. But Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson is becoming a bright spot as he enters Friday’s contest with goals in two straight games. The former BU product will center the dynamic duo of Brad Marchan and David Pastrnak on the top line Friday night.
The Penguins need to string a few wins together. The Bruins are hoping to survive and stay afloat in the uber-tough Atlantic Division.
Gametime: 7:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 11-6-4 (26 points), Penguins 8-8-4 (20 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson-David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen-David Krejci-Jake DeBrusk
Joakim Nordstrom-Colby Cave-Noel Acciari
Chris Wagner-Sean Kuraly-David Backes
Matt Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller
Torey Krug-John Moore
Jeremy Lauzon-Connor Clifton
Penguins projected lines
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist
Tanner Pearson-Evgeni Malkin-Phil Kessel
Zach Aston-Reese-Derick Brassard-Dominik Simon
Bryan Rust-Derek Grant-Riley Sheahan
Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Olli Maatta-Juuso Rikola
Jack Johnson-Jamie Oleksiak
– Kevan Miller’s return to the lineup Wednesday in Detroit ultimately sealed Jakub Zboril’s trip back to Providence. Moore’s return Friday won’t result in another young defenseman going back down I-95 as both Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton will skate as the third defensive pair. Both youngsters never seemed out of place during the road trip and played their way into another appearance against the high-powered Penguins. Steven Kampfer is the odd man out as the healthy scratch.
– The plethora of injuries isn’t stopping Cassidy from making lineup changes. Anders Bjork knows that feeling too well. He’ll experience that again Friday as he joins Kampfer in the press box. Playing Noel Acciari over Bjork is a bit of a head scratcher for sure. Bjork’s pursuit and two-way play have improved since his injury-riddled rookie season. Those traits suit nicely for third line minutes over the energetic and physically gifted Acciari. But there’s no question that Bruins need more production from the former Notre Dame standout, who only has three points on the year — two of which came against the Red Wings on Oct. 13.