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Pregame Notebook vs. Pittsburgh

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins face off tonight for the third time this season.  


In the first two games between these two clubs, both played in Pittsburgh's CONSOL Energy Center, the Bruins have come out on top via stirring third period comebacks.

Most recently, on Monday night, the Bruins defeated the Penguins by scoring four goals with under four minutes to go for the 4-2 victory.

On Nov. 10 the B's dropped a touchdown on Pittsburgh to the tune of a 7-4 win.

Sid's Sidelined
Chara and Crosby. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby will not play tonight against the B’s, as he remains sidelined due to a concussion he suffered on January 5th against Tampa Bay. 

Pittsburgh’s Wednesday night win against Montreal was their first in four games without Crosby, but despite the star's absence from the line-up, the Bruins will not take the Penguins lightly.

“You know even though they’ve been playing without Crosby, they played really well against us…and the they played really well against Montreal (Wednesday) night,” Bruins forward Blake Wheeler said after practice on Friday morning. 

“Without their top guy, they’re a really good team but you know it’s going to be a great game.”

Bartkowski's Back
The Bruins have recalled blueliner Matt Bartkowski from Providence on an emergency basis. 

This is the Pittsburgh native’s second big league call-up, the first coming Jan. 9.

Bartkowski will likely skate in his second NHL game this afternoon, with both games coming against his childhood favorite Pittsburgh Penguins. 

“It’s better because I’m more familiar with then. I know the team and who I’m going to be playing against and stuff like that, so I’m more familiar with the players which will make it a lot easier on me,” Bartkowski said after Friday’s practice in Wilmington, Mass. 

This will be the first time Bartkowski skates with the Bruins at the TD Garden.

“I’m pretty excited. You know I’ve been waiting for this for a long time so really excited to finally play a game in the Garden,” he said.

Tuukka or Timmy?
Thomas & Rask
The B's have two top notch goaltenders in their dressing room and have already relied on both of them to pull out big wins against the Penguins this season.

As of this morning, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien had not yet named a starter for this afternoon's game, but both goaltenders will be ready for the call.

Tuukka Rask has played in just two games against the Penguins in his career with a 1-1-0 record and a 2.50 goals against average. 

In 14 career games against Pittsburgh Tim Thomas has a 7-3-4 record and a 2.72 GAA.

Thomas faced the most shots so far this season (46) and had his season high save total (42) in Boston’s 7-4 win over the Pens on Nov. 10. 

Spoked-B On a Roll
Since the third period in Pittsburgh on Monday night, the Hub of Hockey's offense has been on a roll.

Boston has scored 17 goals in the past 125 minutes of play and had a 10-tally unanswered goal streak before the Flyers scored 3:34 into Thursday’s night's contest. 

Coming into today’s afternoon game, five Bruins are riding point streaks with the longest being center Patrice Bergeron’s five game run of six goals, four assists and ten points.

Forwards Blake Wheeler (1-4-5) and Brad Marchand (3-2-5) and defenseman Zdeno Chara (2-3-5) each have four game streaks coming into today’s match-up.

Bruins forward David Krejci (0-3-3) is the final "streaker" for the B’s with a two-game run prior to this afternoons tilt.

Stu's OUt, Milan and Andrew Question Marks...

Bartkowski
The Bruins may be without the services of left wing Milan Lucic and defenseman Andrew Ference this afternoon.

"Andrew suffered an upper body injury [Thursday] night and he’s deemed day-to-day," said Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "It's very questionable for [Saturday] but after that I think we’re hoping it’s minor enough so we’ll see him back soon.

"[Lucic] is doing better," added Julien. "He skated today for the first time here.

"Obviously, he's another guy who’s going to be questionable...but I think after that we can expect, hopefully, some good news because he’s progressing well," he said.

Defenseman Mark Stuart isn't ready, either.

"I guess he said he’s ready to go, but that’s Stuey, you know being Stuey," said Julien on Friday. "He’ll play with a broken arm if you’ll let him.

"That’s the kind of person he is. But no he hasn’t been cleared medically and [after] what he’s been through, it’s just a player anxious to want to get back.

"I think you know we respect him for that, because that’s the kind of guy he is. He’ll do whatever it takes it play and to be part of this team."

Look for Matt Bartkowski to take a slot on the blueline should Ference's "?" become a scratch.

Tight to the Vest
On Friday, Coach Julien was also asked why the Bruins are often vague about the location and severity of injuries.

His answer was very interesting:

"It’s to protect the players. You know, there are certain injuries you can talk about. Other injuries, all it does is put the player in danger. When he comes back teams know what it is...[and] there is always a player or two on the other team that takes pride in that, so we protect our players and that’s why. I mean if it was an injury that had him out for three, four weeks or whatever, like Stuey, then we say exactly what it is. But when it’s a day-to-day and...there’s a chance your player won’t come back 100 percent; he might come back 95, 90 percent, but good enough to play...you've got to protect those players, so that’s the reason we do those things."

---Hannah Becker and John Bishop   
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