Dec 5, 2011, 3:21 PM EST
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.
- Lundqvist hooked after three first-period goals as Rangers’ woes continue 8
- Burke wants the Flames to be — yep, you guessed it — more ‘truculent’ 39
- Flames fire GM Jay Feaster 36
- Video: Projected rise in salary cap could have some players ‘licking their lips’ 19
- Discuss: Blackhawks score big on Rivalry Night on NBCSN 37
- Crosby: If I had to guess Thornton’s suspension, I’d say 10 games 82
- Cowen gets two-game suspension for hit on Girgensons 12
- Rangers must consider Callahan’s injury history in contract talks 13
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more! 33
- Report: Isles coach Capuano not seen as problem 11
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (183)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (138)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (118)