Mar 12, 2013, 8:05 AM EST
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)
Dec 11, 2013, 3:30 PM EST
“This is not a full body check in which contact to the head was unavoidable,” ruled Brendan Shanahan.
Dec 11, 2013, 3:18 PM EST
Chicago is once again leading the NHL in attendance.
Dec 11, 2013, 2:19 PM EST
Tough call for Glen Sather.
Dec 11, 2013, 2:07 PM EST
All the latest from the crease…
Dec 11, 2013, 1:25 PM EST
37.1 per game, to be exact.
Dec 11, 2013, 1:13 PM EST
Veteran winger might require surgery.
The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more!
Dec 11, 2013, 12:59 PM EST
Also, has John Tortorella really changed?
Dec 11, 2013, 12:41 PM EST
He’ll undergo tests when the team returns to Detroit.
Dec 11, 2013, 12:21 PM EST
No word yet if permission has been granted.
Dec 11, 2013, 12:05 PM EST
Former Devils alternate captain speaks his mind.
Dec 11, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
Leaves the AHL as its leading scorer.
Dec 11, 2013, 11:28 AM EST
Morgan Rielly to follow?
Dec 11, 2013, 11:15 AM EST
It’s been quite the goalie carousel since 2010.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:59 AM EST
Minnesota has just five wins from 14 games away from Xcel this season.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:45 AM EST
He’d be a huge get for Team Sweden.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:24 AM EST
His job might be safe despite the team’s struggles.
Dec 11, 2013, 9:43 AM EST
Both players might be suspended for their actions last night.
Dec 11, 2013, 9:13 AM EST
This is his third suspension.
Dec 11, 2013, 8:40 AM EST
These two teams have gone on very different paths since the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
Dec 11, 2013, 8:02 AM EST
Wednesday’s collection of links.
- Cowen gets two-game suspension for hit on Girgensons 0
- Rangers must consider Callahan’s injury history in contract talks 3
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more! 15
- Report: Isles coach Capuano not seen as problem 8
- Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Flyers challenge top-ranked Blackhawks 17
- Update: Ryan Callahan out 4-6 weeks with MCL sprain 15
- Ovechkin wills Caps to stunning shootout win vs. Bolts 62
- Bettman: No decision on expansion, but they’re listening 13
- Neal admits kneeing Marchand was ‘not the smartest decision’ 77
- Leafs captain Phaneuf suspended two games for boarding 37
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (182)
- 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)