If any set of tuxedoed birds could be called "highflying," it is the Pittsburgh breed and this crÃ¨che of pro hockey Penguins will be a great test for the heretofore-hot Boston Bruins.
The Pennsylvania version of gold and black are usually led by super sophomore Sidney Crosby and fellow budding superstar forward Evgeni Malkin -- he of the interesting international court case and one of the leading candidates for the NHL’s Calder Trophy (Best Rookie), but tonight the Bruins will miss "Sid the Kid" as he is out with a groin injury and will sit out this evening’s contest.
Even so, however, Malkin and his rookery could make life interesting for the B’s.
The Bruins will look to counter Pittsburgh’s huddle of youthful and speedy Pens with the recently spectacular play of Glen Murray, and some of the residual momentum left over from Boston’s last win streak.
Not to mention that the Bruins have their own set of cubs for the Pitts-birds to contend with: Patrice Bergeron
, Brad Boyes and Phil Kessel.
But the thing that could carry them to victory over the Pens is their overwhelming disappointment and discontent on having let one get away on Monday versus the Panthers. The Bruins believe they are better than their record and were enjoying the process of making believers out of the rest of the NHL and its fandom.
Head coach Dave Lewis, captain Zdeno Chara
, and assistants Bergeron and Murray were all pretty upset about the team’s effort versus Florida.
Everyone, however, was buoyed by the fact that the B’s seemed to take the losing to heart in the third period. One hopes that they will return to the ice this evening with the same gusto that they tackled the third stanza last game, but the parcel of Pens in steel town have won three of their last five and their last two contests.
And the scary thing about this team is this -- they keep getting better. Seriously, just look at their top players (dressing this evening):
Player, Position, Games Played, Goals-Assists-Points
Evgeni Malkin, LW, 15, 9-9-18
Mark Recchi, RW, 19, 4-12-16
Sergei Gonchar, D,19, 3-13-16
Ryan Whitney, D, 19, 3-12-15
That is a real nice mix of top-flight newbies and veteran talent (including BU’s Ryan Whitney). They can be scary good, folks.
And for those of you who have not seen Marc-Andre Fleury, the third year pro is 10-5-1 and has a .913 sv% and a 2.82 GAA. He is 1-1-0 with a .929 and 2.48 against Boston in his career.
The young goalie has had some stops and starts, but is clearly on his way to becoming one of the best keepers in the league. At the very least, Fleury is entertaining and just another in the colony to take notice of this evening, that is, provided he gets the start.
Head Coach Dave Lewis seemed awfully happy yesterday, perhaps because the team was playing so quickly after the Monday night setback, but I got the impression that he just likes to watch good hockey and was excited for the match-up tonight.
"I don’t think we have established what we want to be and what we can be yet," said Lewis. "I think it’s still a little early. The thing that I have noticed lately is that there is no real quit, so far in this team.
"When we are behind, we fight back…that would be the only mark [of this team].
"We are trying to put together a series of games to try to gain points. We didn’t come out of the gate very well and we’re starting to feel much better about ourselves. But every night, every team coming in…there is all kind of pressure for them to win and us to win," he said.
What about the Pens, coach?
"They have a young dynamic team," said Lewis. "They’re having a lot of fun and they seem to create a lot of scoring chances and a lot of goals. I don’t think they’ll change much from [their last game] to when we play them.
"They have some top-top young players…and they’ll be that way for a long time."
Ok, so get your remote, popcorn and favorite beverage ready for a Thanksgiving eve shootout -- let’s just hope bear isn’t on the menu!Heard and word(ed)
"We know that they have a lot of young good players up front and some good goaltending and a great power play so we have to be ready for that. I think we are ready to match that -- if we compete right away, play for sixty minutes and play the way we played for the past couple of games. We could come out with a good result."Patrice Bergeron talking about the Penguins.And another thing
Best wishes to the Umass-Lowell Women’s Club Hockey Team going into their big match up versus Nichols in the Tsongas Arena in Lowell on December 3rd. Word has it that a couple of the young ladies on the squad and at least one coach are regular visitors to our humble corner of the web. Play hard and stay safe Riverhawks!