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Excited for the Challenge

by John Griffin / Boston Bruins -- On Monday night the Bruins will take on the league’s best team when they travel to Pittsburgh.

With an Eastern Conference-best 36 points and explosive roster, many people worry when they see the Penguins on their schedule.

However, the Bruins are excited for the challenge.

“They have a good team,” said B’s defenseman Johnny Boychuk after Sunday's practice in Wilmington. "It’s going to be a good test for both teams to see where each other is at."

“I’m really looking forward to it,”  agreed Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, who said he wants the Black & Gold to keep pushing forward.

“It’s probably what this team needs right now,” explained Julien.

The Bruins are 13-0-1 in their last 14 games, yet don’t want to let down in any way. 

The two Eastern foes have not met this season, but the B’s don’t need that proof to recognize that the Penguins will make them pay if they aren’t on the top of their game.

“We know what qualities they have and what individuals they have that can make a big difference in the game,” explained blue-liner Zdeno Chara.

With NHL perennial NHL All-Stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin wearing Pittsburgh’s White, black and gold, Boston's Black & GOld know what they’re in for on Monday night.
“Both of them are very dangerous,” added the B's All-Star defenseman. “They really work extremely well together.”

The Penguins haven’t had Crosby for most of the current campaign as he recently returned from a concussion suffered last season.  However, Pittsburgh has been consistent during 2011-12 and proved that they are a deep squad even when they’re missing their captain.

“They do have a good team even without him," said Boychuk. "With him they’re dangerous.

“We’ve got to respect that and play well defensively.”

If the Bruins can keep taking care of their defensive priorities as a whole, it will allow the blueliners to jump into the Bruins attack, which has been helpful to Bruins scoring effort of late. 

“I really feel comfortable with those guys and now they’re starting to contribute in the offensive end a little bit more,” Julien said of his defense corps.

“At the other end our D’s are supporting the attack better, they’re also finding some shooting lanes and getting shots on net which is helping a lot.”

However, the B’s captain reminds his team that this can’t happen unless they keep up good communication.

“It’s just decisions where we have to know when to join the rush or pinch or whatever,” explained Chara. “That’s only happening when you have five guys basically reading off each other on the ice.”

The bottom line: When the puck drops tonight in Pittsburgh, the B’s will need to do just that to overcome their toughest challenge of the year.

“It’s going to be a big game for us,” said Boychuk.
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