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Healthy Bruins take on less healthy Penguins

Dec 5, 2011, 3:21 PM EDT

Bruins Penguins

There’s plenty on the line tonight as Pittsburgh hosts Boston in a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s two top teams.

For Boston: 14 straight games unbeaten in regulation; Tim Thomas‘s 10-game winning streak, a chance to move within one point of the Penguins.

For Pittsburgh: Eight straight home games unbeaten in regulation; two-game winning streak, a chance to move five points clear of the Bruins.

Of course, Boston will have a major advantage in the health department.

The B’s have been at full strength almost the entire year, no small feat considering their lengthy Stanley Cup run and short offseason. Eleven players have suited up for all 24 games, allowing head coach Claude Julien to maintain consistency with his lineup — probably a big reason why Boston’s playing so well as of late.

The Pens, meanwhile, have had a much tougher go of things. The injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were well-documented, but the ones Pittsburgh’s suffered on defense have been bad, if not worse. Pittsburgh could be without five defensemen tonight — Kris Letang (out, concussion), Zbynek Michalek (out, concussion), Deryk Engelland (day-to-day, lower body), Ben Lovejoy (out, wrist) and Brian Strait (out, elbow) — leaving Dan Bylsma with Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, a pair of rookies (Roberto Bortuzzo, Simon Despres) and a career journeyman (Alexandre Picard) on the blueline.

Of note: Letang and Michalek became the fifth and sixth Penguins to suffer concussions over the last two years. The others included Crosby, Arron Asham, Eric Tangradi and Tyler Kennedy.

  1. govtminion - Dec 5, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Tonight doesn’t mean a ton in that whatever happens, it’s still only December and the standings are still going to change a ton before April.

    That said, with apologies to the Flyers and Rangers, this is probably the best two teams in the East squaring off tonight, so it will be interesting to see how they size each other up tonight. VERY much looking forward to this one.

  2. bobwsc - Dec 5, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    awesome picture

  3. abrienza428 - Dec 5, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    I have tickets to this game tonight, and I am looking forward to every second of it.

  4. 8man - Dec 5, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    It won’t decide anything, but guys on both sides are curious about how they stack up against the other. And so are the fans.

    And with all due respect to the Penguins-Flyers tilt on Thursday, this is the most compelling matchup of the week.

  5. comeonnowguys - Dec 5, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    Headline smells like a build-up to an excuse.

  6. drewsylvania - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Wow….crowd’s already whining. Sheesh.

  7. drewsylvania - Dec 5, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    The only reason they called that is because Neal fell down.

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