Crosby and Giroux

Weekend preview: Flyers-Pens rivalry renewed, Bruins look to stay hot

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A quick look ahead at some of the narratives at play this weekend…

Keystone state clash

It’s going to be a big 48 hours in Pennsylvania as the Flyers and Penguins play back-to-back games this Saturday and Sunday. The first affair will go at Wells Fargo (Saturday, 1 p.m. ET), where the two teams have already met once this season — a 4-1 Penguins win, in which Sidney Crosby notched 1G-1A while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 of 25 shots for the  victory.

On Sunday, the two teams will meet at Consol Energy Center (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), where the Flyers have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success over the last three regular seasons. Philly is 4-1-1 in the last six head-to-head matchups in Pittsburgh and has been led by young forward Brayden Schenn, who has five points in the six games.

Streaking B’s

The NHL’s hottest team out of the Olympic break — the Boston Bruins — will look to stay scorching this weekend when they host the Hurricanes at TD Garden on Saturday.

Boston has won seven straight and is 7-1-1 since players returned from the Winter Games in Sochi, collecting 15 of a possible 18 points to open up a massive lead in the Atlantic Division.

Consider this: heading into the Olympic break, the B’s had 78 points, seven clear of second-place Tampa Bay in the division.

Now, Boston has 93 points and is 13 up on second-place Toronto.

Elsewhere…

— The latest installment of the Freeway Faceoff will go in Los Angeles on Saturday, when the Kings host the Ducks. These two heated California rivals are headed in opposite directions at the moment, as the Ducks are 3-5-2 over their last 10 games while the Kings are 8-2-0 over the same span. The third Cali-based team, San Jose, will be keeping a close eye on this tilt as the Sharks enter the weekend tied on points with the Ducks for top spot in the Pacific Division, with 93.

— On Sunday night, NBCSN brings the latest installment of the Detroit-Chicago rivalry (7:30 p.m. ET). This will be a rematch of last year’s classic Western Conference semifinal playoff, in which the ‘Hawks rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Wings in overtime of Game 7.

Rask, Bruins deliver a blow to Coyotes’ playoff hopes

rask
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The Phoenix Coyotes had a chance to move into a playoff position on Thursday. Only problem was they ran into the Boston Bruins, playing what could be described as their best hockey of the season.

The Coyotes fell behind by a pair of goals, got one back in the third period to make it a close finish, but wound up losing 2-1 in Boston. The Bruins have now seven straight games, and their current streak has pushed them to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

For the Coyotes, the loss keeps them ninth in the West. They remain one point back of the eighth-place Dallas Stars, however Dallas has two games in hand.

Phoenix pushed in the third period for the equalizer, but ran into the goaltending wall of Tuukka Rask. The Bruins’ netminder was solid in a win over the Montreal Canadiens the previous night, and made a huge, desperation stop off Antoine Vermette with less than four minutes left in the third period of Thursday’s game.

Bruins healthy scratch Krug for first time this season

toreykruggetty
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Rookie defenseman Torey Krug has been dropped from the Boston lineup for the first time this year, the club has announced.

The decision was made just prior to tonight’s Bruins-Coyotes game at TD Garden.

Krug, 22, leads all rookie defensemen — and Bruins defensemen — in scoring this year with 12 goals and 35 points, and has been a mainstay on the blueline all season long, averaging 17:23 TOI per game.

That said, Krug has just one point in his last seven games and has seen his minutes decrease recently, playing just over 12 minutes against the Rangers last week and 14:58 in last night’s win over Montreal.

The Bruins are also looking at a variety of different line combinations and pairings on defense lately, having picked up Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter at the trade deadline.

 

Video: Bruins’ Lucic hits Canadiens’ Emelin from behind

Boston Bruins v New York Islanders
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Milan Lucic was a force Wednesday for the Boston Bruins. But he did miss out on a trip to the penalty box in the first period after hitting Montreal Canadiens’ defenseman Alexei Emelin from behind.

Lucic was pressing on the forecheck as Emelin went back for the puck. The numbers on Emelin’s jersey were directly facing Lucic, when he finished his check hard into the boards. However, there was no call on the play.

Emelin, shaken up from the hit, remained in the game. Lucic would score his 20th goal of the season, as the Bruins skated to a 4-1 victory.

Discuss: Bruins run over Habs in newest chapter of historic rivalry

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens
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The rivalry that exists between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens has been rather one-sided in favor of the Habs over the past few years. That changed on Wednesday.

The Bruins, playing on the road, took the game over in the second period to eventually earn a 4-1 victory over the Canadiens.

Let’s discuss:

  • So, how much do the Canadiens miss Carey Price? They’ve won only three times since the NHL schedule resumed out of the Olympic break, and have lost three in a row. Of course, Price is dealing with a lower-body injury and hasn’t played since the conclusion of the Sochi Olympics.
  • While we’re on the topic of goaltenders, how about the play of Bruins’ puck stopper Tuukka Rask, particularly in the first period? Of his 14 saves, perhaps was none better than the right-pad stop he made on a Max Pacioretty breakaway.
  • Some pretty passing here between Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Bergeron finishes it off, giving the Bruins a two-goal lead at the time.
  • The Canadiens had a chance to climb over the Toronto Maple Leafs by one point and into second place in the Atlantic Division standings. They needed a win for that. Didn’t happen. They still fourth in the Eastern Conference.
  • How about the play of Carl Soderberg, and the recent production? He now has 14 points in his last 15 games.
  • The Bruins extended their winning streak on the road to four games, and their overall winning streak to six games. Gaining strength down the stretch drive, it appears.