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)
May 21, 2013, 7:37 PM EDT
This might be getting old to him by now.
May 21, 2013, 6:49 PM EDT
He was banged up roughly in Game 3.
May 21, 2013, 6:08 PM EDT
A 13-percent rise from last year.
May 21, 2013, 5:22 PM EDT
Off to a surprising 2-1 series lead over Chicago.
May 21, 2013, 4:51 PM EDT
He’ll replace Peter Horachek, who was fired yesterday.
May 21, 2013, 4:49 PM EDT
(His brother is Patrick Roy.)
May 21, 2013, 4:20 PM EDT
May 21, 2013, 4:16 PM EDT
Meanwhile, Logan Couture says he’s “all good.”
May 21, 2013, 4:01 PM EDT
Jarmo, talking tough.
May 21, 2013, 3:43 PM EDT
Montreal’s 27-year-old defenseman was hurt in April while trying to hit Milan Lucic.
May 21, 2013, 3:02 PM EDT
San Jose hasn’t lost at HP Pavilion this postseason.
May 21, 2013, 2:44 PM EDT
Edmonton’s new rink is set to open in 2016.
May 21, 2013, 2:20 PM EDT
The panel gets another goalie.
May 21, 2013, 1:41 PM EDT
It’s his old team, Dynamo Moscow.
May 21, 2013, 1:38 PM EDT
It’s been two weeks since they were swept by the Sharks.
May 21, 2013, 1:17 PM EDT
He’s “getting closer” to a return, though.
May 21, 2013, 12:44 PM EDT
Boston can take a commanding lead on the Rangers.
May 21, 2013, 12:27 PM EDT
Ray Emery sits…for now.
May 21, 2013, 11:56 AM EDT
The 29-year-old was on the ice for all five Boston goals in Game 2.
May 21, 2013, 11:26 AM EDT
He’s got the Red Wings two wins shy of a huge upset.
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