Bergeron and Crosby

Get your game notes: Bruins at Penguins

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Pittsburgh and Boston meet tonight for the first time since the playoffs. The action can be seen live on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET.

Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

—- With a victory tonight, the Bruins (4-0-0 on the road) can match their best road start in club history, set by the 2010-11 squad that won its first five road games and later the Stanley Cup. The only other times a Bruins team began a season 4-0-0 on the road were in the 1929-30 and 1937-38 seasons.

—- The Penguins have led the NHL in goals per game the last two seasons (3.33 in 2011-12 and 3.38 in 2012-13), and have finished among the top-five in goals in four of the past five seasons. However, through 12 games this season, they rank only 10th (3.08).

—- Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask’s career regular-season statistics vs. Pittsburgh (1-4-0, 2.63 GAA, .903 save%) are far inferior to his marks vs. the other 28 NHL teams (71-44-16, 2.09 GAA, .928 save%). However, the two goals that he allowed in the four-game sweep of the Penguins in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final were the second-fewest given up in a best-of-seven playoff series. (Jean-Sebastien Giguere allowed one goal in the 2003 Western Conference Final vs. Minnesota.)

—- Since the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Penguins top-line forwards Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz have earned points on the same goal 41 times, the third most by any duo in the NHL.
42 – Henrik & Daniel Sedin (VAN)
42 – Steven Stamkos & Martin St. Louis (TBL)
41 – Crosby & Kunitz (PIT)

During that span, the Sedin twins have played together in 61 games, Stamkos and St. Louis 60, while Crosby and Kunitz in only 48. Source: Elias Sports Bureau

—- David Krejci has a seven-game point streak (two goals, eight assists=10 points), the second-longest active streak in the NHL (Henrik Sedin, VAN, nine games).

—- The Penguins snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-1 win in Carolina on Monday. It was the Pens’ first regular-season winless streak of more than two games since they lost six straight, Dec. 29, 2011-Jan. 11, 2012. It was also during that swoon in 2011-12 that the club last lost three in a row at home (the losing streak reached four games). A loss tonight in Pittsburgh would make it three in a row.

—- The Bruins have led the NHL in faceoff percentage the last two seasons (54.5% in 2011-12 and 56.4% in 2012-13), and have been among the top-five in the last four. However, through 10 games this season, they rank only 11th (52.0%). Despite the team’s slight downturn as a whole, Patrice Bergeron remains one of the league’s best (59.5%, 5th in NHL).

—- Ex-Penguins and current Bruins forward Jarome Iginla has seven points over his last four games. That is the most points that Iginla has put up in any four-game span since a nine-point surge from Mar. 6-13, 2012, his last full season in Calgary. Against New Jersey on Saturday, he registered three points (one goal, two assists) in a period (the first) for the first time since Dec. 13, 2007.

—- Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik assisted on all three Pittsburgh goals vs. Carolina, for his second-career three-point game. It was only the second time in franchise history that a Pens blueliner assisted on every goal in a game they won and scored at least

The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Pens-Bruins, Beastmodo, Miller trade talk, and more

Sidney Crosby
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This is a new thing we’re trying. Every Wednesday, we’ll publish a little back-and-forth we have via email. We’re calling it the Chip ‘n’ Chase. Yes, it’s a terrible name. Enjoy.

Jason Brough: Hey buddy, so Bruins-Penguins tonight. Looking forward to this one. Pittsburgh’s chance for redemption…if that’s possible during the regular season. (It’s not, but the game’s on NBCSN so we’re selling it anyway.) Looking back on the playoffs, I still can’t believe the Pens only scored twice against the B’s in four games. Two goals. That’s it. Kinda reminds me of that Harry Doyle line in Major League: “That’s all we got, one goddamn hit?” Wait, can we say goddamn on PHT? Whatever, let’s run with it. In a related story, do you think we’ll hear about the Bruins’ “layers” before or after this one? We all know Claude Julien loves him some layers.

Mike Halford: Oh man, the layers. How could I forget the layers? Julien spent the entire playoffs talking like his team was a Tex-Mex dip. Anyway, I’m also excited for tonight’s game. What I remember most about that series was the bitterness — Evgeni Malkin fighting Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara punching Sidney Crosby in his surgically repaired jaw — all of which added to Pittsburgh’s patented off-the-charts frustration. It also served as a reminder that, as much as they say they’ve matured, the Pens can still be rattled, especially if you sock ’em, POW, right in the kisser. Oh, and since we’re on the subject of firing shots, Mike Babcock threw one out in advance of another good Wednesday matchup: Detroit at Vancouver. When asked how he’d handle the red-hot Sedins-Kesler line, Babcock replied, “We’ll see who’s handling who.” No need to find the waitress, Vancouver, because you just got served.

MORE: Penguins, Bruins renew hostilities

JB: Did you hear what they’re calling the Sedins-Kesler line? Beastmodo. Get it? Because the Sedins played for Modo in Sweden and Kesler’s a big Marshawn Lynch fan or something. I think a better nickname for that line would be “the first line..and also the second line” line, because those three have been playing a ton under new head coach John Tortorella. In fact, among NHL forwards, only Sidney Crosby (22:52) is averaging more ice time than Kesler (22:38), Henrik (22:28), and Daniel (22:14). Good thing it’s not an Olympic year or anything. And Vancouver has an easy travel schedule, right? I actually don’t have a huge problem with it, but it will be interesting to see how those guys look once the playoffs start. Either way, I can’t wait until Torts has to start answering the fatigue questions every day from reporters. That was always fun when he was coaching the Rangers. Dan Girardi could’ve been face down with seven IVs stuck into his back and Torts would’ve refused to admit his players were tired.

source:  MH: Pretty sure you don’t put IVs into a guy’s back, Hollywood Upstairs Medical College. Can we talk about the Vanek trade for a sec? I know it’s a bit old already, but all these new details keep coming out. First we learned Buffalo retained a bunch of Vanek’s salary. Then we found out the Isles could defer the ’14 pick if it’s in the top 10. I feel like there’s one more hidden clause, some sort of future consideration where Ryan Miller would agree to go to Long Island if the team would 1) win more than one game in a row (it hasn’t yet, by the way) or 2) use its celebrity super-fan network of Ralph Macchio and E from Entourage to hatch a comedic vehicle for Miller’s wife. But in all seriousness, Miller has to go soon, right? I read something about that on a very handsome website yesterday.

JB: I wonder if he’d go to the Islanders. They could definitely use a goalie, and he seems like the kind of guy who’d enjoy Brooklyn’s hipster scene. But rumor has it (and by rumor I mean TSN’s Bob McKenzie) that Miller wants to end up in California. I presume this is because his wife is an actor and that’s where actors live, as opposed to Buffalo, where disappointed sports fans live. Unfortunately for Miller, I just can’t think of a California team that needs a starting goalie. The Kings don’t. The Ducks don’t. The Sharks don’t. Maybe he could try out for the Lakers, but they really need to get younger.

MH: I think Miller’s best hockey fit is in the glitzy and glamorous town of Edmonton (hey, it’s got a film festival). But even if he agreed to go there, I don’t see anything beyond a rental situation, which would only be a band-aid solution to the Oilers’ gaping goaltending wound. I’m glad you brought up the California teams, though, because they’re all playing well, and they all play in the Pacific Division, which should really be renamed the $2 Steak Division because it’s so tough and no worse a name than Metropolitan. Can you disagree with any of this? I don’t think you can.

JB: Don’t forget about Phoenix and Vancouver. Those teams are playing well, too. So yeah, tough division that Pacific Division. Good luck with that, Edmonton and Calgary. Personally, I’ve been really impressed with Anaheim. I thought they’d take a step back this season, but a 10-3-0 start seems to be proving me wrong. (I’m used to it, don’t worry.) Everyone knows about Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, but the Ducks are also getting contributions from lesser-knowns like Kyle Palmieri, Mathieu Perreault, Patrick Maroon, and Nicky Bonino, whose name actually isn’t Nicky, it’s just Nick, but I enjoy saying Nicky Bonino. Fuhgeddaboudit. Until next week…

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins and Bruins renew hostilities

Dennis Seidenberg, Sidney Crosby, Zdeno Chara, Paul Martin
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Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL’s fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight the Boston Bruins will head to CONSOL Energy Center to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

When the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off in the Eastern Conference Final last season, many expected it to be a knock-down, drag-out war on the ice. Instead, the Bruins gave the Penguins the bum’s rush, sweeping them out in four straight.

Now that they’re meeting for the first time this season, both teams have seen plenty of changes. Jarome Iginla switched sides, signing with the Bruins over the summer after choosing to be traded to Pittsburgh instead of Boston from Calgary last season.

Gone are Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, and Nathan Horton and new guy Loui Eriksson is out with a concussion, although that’s getting better. Boston’s favorite player to hate, Matt Cooke, left Pittsburgh for Minnesota in the offseason, taking some of the heat of this rivalry with him.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $2,500 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Wednesday). It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $500. Starts at 8pm ET. Here’s the link.

The Penguins return home coming off a win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Before that, however, they had lost three in a row. Kris Letang’s return to action helped get their defense back to full speed for all of a game and a half before Rob Scuderi went out with an ankle injury.

Scuderi isn’t alone on the injured list. James Neal is still out with an upper-body ailment and Chuck Kobasew will be out for Pittsburgh with a lower-body injury. Beau Bennett is still day-to-day.

The Bruins would like to forget all about their loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. Boston held a 3-1 lead after the first period only to see the struggling Devils chip away and score twice in the final two minutes en route to a 4-3 win. You’d never know the Bruins had won four in a row previous to that with how disappointed they were in losing to the Devils.

This game boils down to its stars though. David Krejci and Milan Lucic lead the way on offense for Boston while Sidney Crosby has 20 points in 12 games to lead the NHL. Patrice Bergeron may have his hands full in trying to shut down Crosby the way he and Zdeno Chara did in the playoffs.

In goal, Tuukka Rask is off to a great start for Boston and Marc-Andre Fleury is playing strong in his own right for the Penguins.

Bruins guess Eriksson (concussion) is getting better

bruinserikssongetty
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Loui Eriksson visited his Boston Bruins teammates and staff on Monday, leading head coach Claude Julien to be (kind of, sort of) optimistic to CSNNE.com.

“Every day you guys are going to ask about a concussion, and it is what it is,” Julien said. “He’s doing better, I guess. ‘I guess’ is because you never know. The one [piece] of good news is that he did show up this morning. He came by, and that’s usually good news when a guy can leave his home, and come by the [practice] rink.

“So we’re taking it day-by-day. Right now you’re probably not going to see him [in a game] in the next week, and you’re probably not going to see him skating in the next week. So we can put it at that stage for now.”

It almost sounds like “week-to-week” might be a more accurate description of the 27-year-old’s status, but the B’s seem generally positive about his situation. As CSNNE.com notes, Eriksson doesn’t have much of a history of concussions (if any) before this one, so that’s a plus.

Eriksson was just starting to find his groove in Boston. After going pointless in his first three games, he collected three assists in his last five. It might be a while before he can contribute some more, though.

Devils strike quickly on power play to stun Bruins

Devils-Bruins
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The Boston Bruins have experienced this before, although what transpired Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils doesn’t even compare to last June.

With a one-goal lead and less than two minutes remaining in the third period, the Bruins gave up two power play goals against to the Devils within a span of 23 seconds to lose 4-3.

The Bruins had actually jumped out to a 3-1 lead after the first period, and looked like they could go into cruise control against the struggling Devils, who recorded just their second victory of the season.

Not the case. New Jersey got power play goals from Adam Henrique in the first period, Damien Brunner in the second, and Marek Zidlicky and Andy Greene in the third.

Squandering this latest one-goal lead in the waning minutes was still stunning, but nowhere close to what happened in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final when the Bruins faced off against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Holding a one-goal lead and poised to send the series to a decisive seventh game, the Bruins surrendered two goals in 17 seconds and the Blackhawks, as a result of their improbable turn of fortune, hoisted the Stanley Cup.