Dennis Seidenberg, Sidney Crosby, Zdeno Chara, Paul Martin

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins and Bruins renew hostilities

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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.

Devils prepare for ‘gut-check’ game versus Bruins

Jaromir Jagr
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New Jersey Devils forward Damien Brunner thinks his team played well enough to beat the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, but the fact is they lost in a shootout and moral victories look a bit hollow at 1-5-4.

At this point, the main thing the Devils have going for them is the fact that the Metropolitan Division hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations. One win and four consolation points is good enough for sixth place and keeps them just four points shy of the playoff spot. So they aren’t in too deep a hole yet, but they still need to turn things around quickly.

The only problem is they will face the 7-2-0 Boston Bruins tonight.

“These are gut-check type games,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer told the Bergen Record. “For me, these are statement-type games that we have an opportunity to come in here and put our work boots and try and beat one of the best teams in the NHL. If we can do that, I think it could push us on to bigger and better things.”

This will also mark Jaromir Jagr’s first game against the Bruins since he participated in their run to the Stanley Cup Final. Jagr anticipated that cap issues would keep the Bruins from re-signing him and he enjoyed his time there.

Naturally, he also has plenty of experience playing against former teams, given that the Devils are his seventh NHL squad.

“I have to show everybody how to do it,” he joked. “I was gifted. I can’t help it. It’s my job.”

Related:

Schneider out Saturday with lower-body injury

Discuss: Bruins overpower Sabres on NBCSN; could John Scott be facing a suspension?

Boston Bruins v Buffalo Sabres
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The Boston Bruins defeated the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night, but the third period was marred by a John Scott head shot on Loui Eriksson.

The Bruins won by a final score of 5-2, however Scott, the Sabres tough guy, was assessed a major penalty for charging for his elbow to the head of Eriksson less than six minutes into the third period.

Discuss:

  • How many games should Scott get?
  • The Bruins got a pair of third period goals from defenseman Torey Krug to pull away from the floundering Sabres. In the final seconds, the crowd in Buffalo, having already voiced their frustrations this season, began booing.
  • Chad Johnson’s debut for the Bruins could not have gone any better, or easier. He faced 17 shots. Yes. Seventeen shots. He stopped 15 of them, but was tested only twice in the third period.
  • Pretty nice save here by Ryan Miller. But it was tough night for the Sabres’ goalie after that.
  • Some good news for the Sabres: Rookie defenseman Nikita Zadorov, at just 18 years old and the 16th overall pick in this year’s draft, scored his first career NHL goal for Buffalo.