Pittsburgh Penguins (41-24-5-87) vs. Boston Bruins (31-26-12-74)
09-10 Season Series: Penguins lead 2-1 09-10 Away vs. Boston: Penguins trail 0-1 All-Time vs. Boston: Penguins trail 21-67-7 All-Time Away vs. Boston: Penguins trail 34-36-17 Overtime: Penguins lead 8-2-10 Shootout: Series tied 2-2
Boston has languished around the bottom of the Eastern Conference just one season after claiming the top seed. The Bruins currently reside in the eighth and final playoff position – three points behind seventh-place Philadelphia and three points ahead of the ninth-place New York Rangers. Boston is coming off a seven-game road swing where they posted an impressive 3-3-1 record which kept them in the playoff race. The Bruins have a favorable schedule down the stretch as they attempt to improve their positioning with eight of their remaining 13 games at TD Garden.
Daniel Paille – The former first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2002 has been an effective third-line addition for the Bruins. Paille has picked up nine goals and 17 points in 61 games with the Bruins since his acquisition on Oct. 20. He has gone nine straight contests without a point and has just three points (2G-1A) over his last 18 games. Paille’s best offensive season came two seasons ago when he scored a career-high 19 goals for the Sabres.
Miroslav Satan – The former Penguin joined the Bruins as a free agent in early January. In 25 games with the Bruins Satan has picked up nine points (4G-5A), although he does have just two goals over his past 19 games and zero in his last five. Satan might not have the most physical edge to his game, but even at 35 he still possess the hands which made him a four-time 30-goal scorer. Satan gave the Penguins good minutes as a depth forward during last season’s run to the Stanley Cup.
Dennis Seidenberg – Boston acquired the 28-year-old Seidenberg from the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline. He has been outstanding for the Bruins, picking up five assists and posting a plus-6 rating in eight games. He has been a plus or even in all eight contests. Seidenberg leads the league with 197 blocked shots. A great skater with a good stick, Seidenberg has picked up 28 points (2G-26A) overall in 70 games with the Panthers and Bruins.
Patrice Bergeron – Boston’s leading scorer on the season with 45 points (16G-29A) in 61 games is coming off a great road trip where he picked up eight points (4G-4A) over the seven-game trek. Bergeron, who is having a comeback season this year after missing plenty of action the past two seasons due to concussions, saw action alongside Sidney Crosby on Canada’s gold-medal winning squad in Vancouver. He is one of the top faceoff men in the NHL, ranking sixth with a 58.3 percent success rate. David Krejci – Boston is going to need a strong finish from Krejci, whose play has picked up dramatically following a tough start, due to the expected absence of Marc Savard the remainder of the season. The Bruin’s second-leading scorer is currently riding a four-game point streak which has seen him post seven points (2G-5A) and three multiple-point efforts. He had a breakout season last year with 73 points (22G-51A) and a plus-37 rating in 82 games. Boston locked Krejci up long term last offseason.
Milan Lucic – Lucic is one of those players who will run over, through or past you – and most of the time it’s over and through. He ranks fourth on team with 110 hits despite playing in just 37 games. Lucic has battled both a finger fracture and an ankle sprain, causing him to miss 32 games. When he is healthy, there are few forwards in the game who are harder to move from the front of the cage than Lucic.
Mark Recchi – Recchi might be the NHL’s oldest player at 42 years old, but the veteran sniper continues to perform at a high level for the Bruins. After a relative dry spell which saw him pick up just two points (1G-1A) over nine games, Recchi has been one of the hottest Bruins with six points (3G-3A) over his previous five contests. A key member of the Penguins 1991 Stanley Cup championship squad, Recchi is just 21 points away from hitting the 1,500- point mark for his career. Equally as impressive as his point total, Recchi is one of three Bruins to play in all 69 games thus far.
Michael Ryder – There is no question Ryder is one of the streakiest goal scorers in the NHL, but when he is on, he can snipe with anybody. He picked up a goal and an assist in Boston’s 5-2 defeat of Carolina on Tuesday, ending a nine-game goal-less draught. Ryder has a great snap shot coming down the wing, which he has used to score 15 times thus far, second-most on the team. The four-time 20-goal scorer scored 27 last season in his first campaign with the Bruins.
Blake Wheeler – Another shrewd acquisition for the Bruins as an unsigned college free agent prior to last season, Wheeler was one of the NHL’s top rookies in 2008-09 with 21 goals, 45 points and a plus-37 rating. He has 17 goals in 69 games this season, putting him on pace to post back-to-back 20-goal campaigns. Wheeler is an imposing figure in front of the net with his 6-foot-5 frame and delicate hands.
Patrice Bergeron Milan Lucic
Mark Recchi Blake Wheeler
Zdeno Chara – While many of his teammates have struggled around him, Boston’s captain and reigning Norris Trophy winner Chara continues to dominate at both ends of the rink. The 6-foot-9 blueliner with the cannon of a shot ranks sixth on the team with 35 points (5G-30A) in 68 games. Chara’s plus-10 rating leads all Bruins defensemen. He has gone 10 consecutive games without a goal and five without a point. Chara’s goal-scoring numbers are down this season as he has only five following back-to-back seasons of 19 and 17. In addition to the offense he provides, Chara remains one of the game’s top one-on-one defenders.
Andrew Ference – It’s hard to believe Ference is just 30-years-old because it seems like decades ago that he broke into the league with the Penguins. At 5-foot-11, Ference relies on his excellent skating stride and sound positioning to matchup with bigger forwards. When Ference began his career with the Penguins, he was expected to be more of an offensive rearguard, but his skill set has never translated into big numbers.
Matt Hunwick – Boston’s scouting staff scored a major coup when they claimed Hunwick with the 224th pick of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft out of the University of Michigan. The 24-year-old offers Boston another great skater along the back line. He has already tied his career high with six goals, although his rating has fallen from plus-15 last season to minus-14 this year.
Dennis Wideman – What a difference a year makes for Wideman. Last year the 26-year-old was among the breakout stars of the league with 50 points (13G-37A) and a plus-32 rating, but this season he has just three goals and 21 points through 63 games, while his minus-16 rating is the lowest on the team. Still, Wideman is an excellent two-way defender who supplies another quality shot along the point opposite Chara.
Zdeno Chara Dennis Wideman
Tuukka Rask – The 22-year-old Finn looked strong on Tuesday as he returned to the lineup after missing five games due to injury. He stopped 30 of 32 shots to pick up his 16th victory of the season. The lanky backstop leads the NHL with a 2.09 goals-against average while his .928 save percentage ranks second. Rask spent much of the past two seasons apprenticing with Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence, where he won 60 regular-season games and helped them advance to the third round of the postseason last year.
Tim Thomas – Last season’s Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goaltender appears to have righted his ship after a tough start to the season. Thomas went 2-2-1 for the Bruins while Rask has sat out with an undisclosed injury, with one of his losses coming in a 2-1 decision to the Penguins when he made 31 saves. Thomas carries a below .500 record of 15-17-8, but his .914 save percentage is still plenty impressive. He saw brief action for Team USA in the semifinal victory over Finland when the Americans gave Ryan Miller a rest.
Tuukka Rask Tim Thomas
Marco Sturm - German forward Marco Sturm has rebounded nicely following a knee injury last season which limited him to just 19 games. The 31-year-old leads the Bruins with 21 goals, the seventh time in his career he has reached that total. Sturm is sneaky quick and can be effective around the net despite not being an overly physical player. Acquired from the Sharks in the 2005 trade which sent Joe Thornton to San Jose, Sturm is also effective away from the puck, leading the Bruins with a plus-12 rating.
“It was a great win. We needed a huge win. I think we all knew that. … We’ve got to do that for 13 more (games) now. If we do that, we’ll control our own destiny and we’ll get into the playoffs.” - Boston right winger Mark Recchi talking to the Boston Herald following the Bruins’ 5-2 victory over Carolina on Tuesday.
“It will (mean a lot) when I’m all done, for sure. I got the opportunity to meet him, too, and to be mentioned in the same breath as him is pretty cool because he’s a really nice guy.” - Recchi again talking to the Boston Herald, this time about how his next goal will give him 560 for his career and tie him with Montreal legend Guy Lafleur for 22nd on the NHL’s all-time list.
“I felt good. I played yesterday, a couple periods, but other than that I had some time to get my body to recover from the injury and from the games and I felt good.” - Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask speaking to the Bruins official team website after defeating the Hurricanes on Tuesday in his first start since missing five games due to injury.
3-3-1 The Bruins finished a season-long seven-game road swing with a 3-3-1 record, including a 2-1 loss to the Penguins on March 7
5th It might be advantageous for the Bruins to pick up the opening goal on Thursday considering their 8-19-8 record when they surrender the first goal is the fifth-worst mark in the NHL