NBCSN’s coverage of the 2016-17 NHL season continues with a doubleheader on Wednesday night. It all gets going at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Boston Bruins. You can watch the game online by clicking here.
The Boston Bruins came into this week having lost three straight games, but they managed to put together a solid effort in Monday’s 2-1 overtime win in Montreal.
Despite the low goal total, that was arguably one of the most physical and entertaining games of the season so far.
“As a team, it was a good response (given) what our trend had been, losing three straight and knowing we were up against a tough opponent,” David Backes said, per the Boston Herald. “The guys were engaged, battling for each other, standing up for each other. You like to see that character come out.”
It took a total team effort to knock off the Habs, and the Bruins will need more of the same tonight.
The Penguins are the top team in what is looking like the best division in hockey. Pittsburgh’s won six straight games and they’re currently sitting atop the Metropolitan with a 19-7-3 record (12-2-1 at home).
By now, you may have heard about this guy, Sidney Crosby, who’s lighting the lamp at a crazy pace.
The Pens captain missed the first six games of the year because of a concussion, but since coming back, he’s put the puck in the net 21 times in 23 games.
“He creates offense so many different ways,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune. “He can beat you with a speed game. He can beat you with a power game. He can beat you with a finesse game.”
Of course, this isn’t just a one-man team. The Penguins have also benefited from balanced scoring, some solid production from the blue line and they have a pair of goalies that can win them games on any given night.
The late game gets going at 10:00 p.m. ET, as the Philadelphia Flyers travel to Colorado to take on the Avalanche. To watch that game online, click here.
The Pens might be the top team in the Metro, but the Flyers are the hottest team. Philadelphia has put together a nine-game winning streak, and they trail Pittsburgh by just two points in the standings.
“I think it’s definitely pretty cool for us,” Shayne Gostisbehere said of his team’s winning streak, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But right now the coolest thing is to look at the standings. We’re sitting pretty good. It’s a good thing for our team, and it’s a good thing for us to not get complacent. Just because you rattle off some wins in a row doesn’t mean you can’t lose that many, too.”
When you win nine games in a row, it likely means that you’ve received contributions from different players. That holds true for the Flyers, but the work Jakub Voracek has put in this season is undeniable.
After a disappointing 2015-16 that saw him score just 11 goals and 55 points, the Flyers forward has clearly taken the necessary steps to bounce back in a big way. He currently has 11 goals and 32 points in 31 games, which is pretty crazy.
“I’ve been here six seasons. Five years, I’ve been great,” Voracek said. “Last season was a fluke. I look at it that way.”
The Avalanche are a hard team to figure out because they have plenty of young, speedy talent, but they just can’t win with any regularity.
The Avs are 2-4-0 in the month of December. No loss was uglier than that 10-1 decision in Montreal last Saturday night. To their credit, they bounced back the very next night by beating Toronto.
One of the issues with Colorado, is their abysmal home record (4-8-1). No team in the league has won less games at home than the Avs.
“I don’t know why our road record’s so much better,” forward Matt Duchene said, per the Denver Post. “That’s got to change a little bit, obviously. We have to be a lot better. But we’ve had some bad games on the road too, games where we haven’t shown up. When we lose, we’re doing the same things, and it’s not a home versus road thing. When we win, we’re doing the same things. It’s not a home versus road thing there, either.”
Scoring goals has also been an issue for them. Through 27 games, no team has found the back of the net less than the Avs (60 goals).
Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Rene Bourque have scored 10, 8 and 8 goals respectively, but the rest of the roster isn’t pulling their weight in that department.
Captain Gabriel Landeskog has missed some time this year, but he only has four goals in 17 contests. Carl Soderberg has four in 27, Jarome Iginla has three in 27, Mikko Rantanen has four in 22 and Blake Comeau has five in 23.