BOSTON, MA - The Bruins hit the ice for pregame skate today back at TD Garden this morning, as they prepare to face off against the Penguins in Game Three tonight, with a possible 3-0 series lead on the line.
All members of the Black & Gold were on the ice for the morning practice, and, as expected, the line rushes showed the same lineup from Games One and Two. (Providence call-up Niklas Svedberg is still with the team, but only hits the ice when Tuukka Rask stays off to rest).
As such, here's what you can expect to see on the ice tonight, at least to start:
Of course, defensive pairings are often fluid throughout the game, with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg logging more minutes than other other Bruins' blueliners, and especially to match up with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
On the Pittsburgh side, Malkin, Paul Martin and Jarome Iginla all stayed off the ice, though Martin was seen hitting the ice in shorts after the skate. As such, the Pens' lines were mixed and matched during full-ice rushes. Pittsburgh Head Coach Dan Bylsma told media Tuesday afternoon that "there will be changes to our lineup and line [combinations]."
But one thing is close to certain - Tomas Vokoun is expected to be back between the pipes, after being replaced by Marc-Andre Fleury in Game Two after the B's jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period.
"Looking for a solid game from our goaltender," said Bylsma. "We've gotten that from Tomas in virtually every game he's played, a real solid performance, and he's done that for us, and that's what we need tonight. We don't need perfection. We're looking for a solid game in between the pipes and from our goaltender to allow our team to win the hockey game."
Not Getting Ahead
The Bruins may be up 2-0 in the series, but they're not getting ahead of themselves.
"It doesn’t matter what situation it is, I think our guys our mature enough to understand that whatever we went through, whatever the situation is right now, we have to be a good team in order to win at this stage of the season," said Bruins' Head Coach Claude Julien following the team's pregame skate.
"We can’t afford to let our guard down, whether it’s the respect for a team you’re playing, and the ability of that team to take advantage of you if you’re not ready, or whether it’s just from within our group to want to be a good team every night. That’s what’s important right now, that we stay focused on the present and don’t live in the past, don’t look in the future."
"I’ve said that before, we’ve been good when we’ve kept our eye on what’s going on right now. That’s what we’ve got to do."
The past two games have seen the Bruins outscore the Penguins 9-1, but it hasn't come easily for the B's, who have been battling every inch of ice.
When Coach Julien was asked if he expected a tighter game tonight, he responded, "Well, that’s what it’s been from the start for us. Every part of the ice is a battle. That’s how we’ve been able to come back 2-0."
"Like I said, we respect every part of our game to be good, because it needs to be. I keep saying it over and over - the team that we’re playing is a good team, has been a great team all year. I guess, right now, we’re up two nothing because we’ve taken that respect and brought it to our game and made sure that every inch of the ice is important. We’ve taken that approach."
Since the Bruins can expect that the Pens will make improvements heading into tonight's game, Coach Julien said that's mostly for the coaching staff to focus on. He wants his players' mindset to be on their own game, and his staff will let them know of any adjustments to be made when necessary.
"I think we have to continue to play our game, but we should expect some changes here and there. If those things happen, I think we’ll be ready for it. I said that all along in the playoffs, we really have to focus, we want to focus on our game, because I think that’s where all the focus has to be. That’s where players’ focus needs to be."
"As far as coaches are concerned, we have to be ready for adjustments, and if there are some, we’ve got to be ready to tell our players."
Meanwhile, the Penguins are hoping they've learned from the first two games.
"You certainly have that look at the games, look at what happened in the games and then evaluate where we need to get better and where we have to focus for Game 3, and that's what we've done," said Bylsma.
"We've come here to Boston with that focus. We did that yesterday, and we're ready to step out on the ice for Game 3 with that renewed focus about where we need to get better and where we need to be and play at to be successful tonight."
"We haven't really been happy with the way we've played, and no, we've gotten off our game and deviated from it. You know, we know the situation we're in exactly, too, we're down 0-2 and we're challenged with going on the road to Boston for two."
"We're going to find out exactly an awful lot about our mindset, our team coming out here tonight in this game."
The Bruins will, too.