NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Boston Bruins host the Pittsburgh Penguins at the TD Garden at 7:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.
The Bruins have been doing more than just holding their own lately, but a 2-0 loss to Montreal on Saturday cost them an opportunity to close the substantial gap between Boston and the Atlantic-leading Canadiens. Bruins head coach Claude Julien felt the team’s effort was sound, but the reality is that the injuries Boston is coping with have taken their toll.
“It’s unfortunate but this is where we realize that right now when you play a team that’s healthy and that’s going extremely well, it almost takes a perfect game [to get a win],” Julien said.
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If that’s what it would have taken to beat Montreal, then the bar should be set similarly high against Pittsburgh tonight. The Penguins aren’t completely healthy of course. They lost a great and versatile player when the future of Pascal Dupuis’ career was unfortunately put into question because of a blood clot in his lung. Following that serious revelation, Pittsburgh lost back-to-back games against the New York Islanders.
Pittsburgh is still relatively healthy though compared to the rest of the league. As has been the norm with the Penguins for years, they’ll enter this game with an opposing group of star forwards at their disposal, including Sidney Crosby, who has 35 points in 25 career regular season games against Boston. He didn’t record a point in the two contests against the Islanders, but he hasn’t been held off the scoresheet for three straight regular season games since Oct. 31-Nov. 10, 2009.
Taking a step back from Crosby and looking at the big picture, the gap between Pittsburgh and Boston’s offenses this season becomes more blatant. Pittsburgh has recorded a league-leading 3.53 goals per game while the Bruins sit in 20th place with an average of 2.50. To make matters worse, the Bruins have missed forwards David Krejci and Brad Marchand lately.
It’s with that backdrop that the Bruins have reportedly decided to summon David Pastrnak. The 18-year-old was taken with the 25th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and while most other top prospects that age are tied to a Canadian junior team and are consequently forced to either play in the NHL or CHL, Pastrnak was previous in the Swedish hockey system and was able to immediately start playing in the AHL. He’s flourished at that level with five goals and 18 points in 17 contests.
It’s unfair to hope for too much from him in his NHL debut, if that even comes tonight, but the Bruins certainly can use all the help they can get. They swept the Penguins in the 2012 Eastern Conference Final, but that was under different circumstances. As Julien said, they’ll likely need a very strong effort to come away with two points tonight and they might get just that.