Mar 12, 2013, 8:05 AM EDT
NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Boston Bruins at the Consol Energy Center at 7:30 p.m. ET.
With just under half the season remaining, both teams are serious contenders for the first seed in the Eastern Conference, and while that might not be a shock, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion going into this season.
These teams had serious question marks when the lockout ended. For the Boston Bruins, the big concern revolved around their goaltending and whether Tuukka Rask would make a smooth transition from strong backup to starting netminder while Anton Khudobin, with little prior experience, emerge as a a viable backup. Both have long since squashed those fears.
In the case of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the concerns were largely injury-related. Could Sidney Crosby, plagued by concussion problems in recent years, stay healthy? So far he has.
In fact, Tuesday’s match will feature the top offensive team in the Penguins facing off against the third best defensive team in the league.
33-year-old forward Chris Kunitz in particular has proven to be a major weapon for the Pittsburgh Penguins and one of the season’s biggest surprises. He’s already had two hat tricks in 2013 – including one on Sunday – and will enter tonight’s clash with 36 points in 26 games.
To put Kunitz’s numbers in perspective: If he maintains his current pace, he will set new career-highs in goals and points, despite the fact that this is a shortened season.
That being said, to bill this match purely as a classic contest between offensive and defensive juggernauts would be misleading. The Boston Bruins have plenty of offensive weapons of their own and a deep core of forwards that should keep the Penguins on their toes.
Given that Penguins goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun have struggled this season, the Bruins might be able to match Pittsburgh blow-for-blow even if this turns into a high-scoring affair.
One thing is for sure: This game will feature a lot of stars and two teams that can’t be taken lightly.
Probable goaltenders: PIT – Fleury (12-5-0, 2.71 GAA, .902 SV%) | BOS – Khudobin (4-1-0, 2.42 GAA, .910 SV%)
Top scorers: PIT – Crosby (12-33-45, 26 GP) | BOS – Patrice Bergeron (6-15-21, 23 GP)
Sep 2, 2014, 10:48 PM EDT
He’s already great defensively.
Sep 2, 2014, 9:23 PM EDT
Gaudreau isn’t a lock to make the team either.
Sep 2, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
He played a key role in Guelph winning the 2014 OHL championship.
Sep 2, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT
He’ll have a difficult time winning the backup job over Martin Jones.
Sep 2, 2014, 5:12 PM EDT
He was selected with the ninth overall pick in 2014.
Sep 2, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT
He still has a season left on his existing contract.
Sep 2, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT
He’s not the only Russian star linked to the KHL recently.
Sep 2, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT
Which unsigned vets will look to win jobs at camp?
Sep 2, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
All at 75/1, respectively.
Sep 2, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT
Johansen, Krug, DeKeyser and more…
Sep 2, 2014, 11:18 AM EDT
The trio missed all of last year’s playoff run.
Sep 2, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT
Veteran AHLer had previously spent time with the Canucks, Avalanche and Islanders organizations.
Sep 2, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT
“I think it’s a great time for the Detroit Red Wings.”
Sep 2, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Sep 1, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Easy to see why.
Sep 1, 2014, 9:01 PM EDT
Edmonton wants to assess Leon Draisaitl, it seems.
Sep 1, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT
Sixteen of their first 21 games are on the road.
Sep 1, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT
Part two of today’s Labor Day posts.
Sep 1, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
Part one of two Labor Day “theme” posts.
Sep 1, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT
The new Penguins bench boss previously coached the young defenseman.
- Treliving would be ‘shocked’ if Bennett sticks with Flames in 14-15 3
- With training camps looming, a look at some key unsigned RFAs 8
- Workhorse goalies, forwards from last season 15
- Five interesting players still on UFA market 41
- Trotz will still cheer for Preds ‘like crazy’ 4
- Hextall: Advanced statistics small, but meaningful part of Kings’ success 7
- Hayes sees opportunity with Rangers 28
- Fanspeak: Martin Brodeur named greatest Devil in franchise history 15
- Devils’ Gomez considered retirement 7
- It’s New Jersey Devils day on PHT 22