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What to Watch For: Pens vs. Bruins

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

PENGUINS (21-8-0) vs. BRUINS (19-4-3)
WHEN: March 17, 2013 - 12:30 p.m.  |  WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center

The Boston Bruins return to Pittsburgh Sunday for a rematch with the Penguins, who pulled out an epic comeback victory when the teams met last Tuesday. The Bruins have won both games they’ve played since their visit here last week, getting a 4-1 win over Florida on Thursday and a 4-1 defeat of Washington on Saturday.

Goalie Anton Khudobin started Saturday’s game against the Capitals, so that means the Penguins will likely see No. 1 netminder Tuukka Rask on Sunday. Rask has shined in the starter’s role the team had been preparing him for the previous few seasons, as he’s got a 14-2-3 record to go with a 1.91 goals-against average and .930 save percentage – sparkling numbers for the 26-year-old.

Rask has a defense in front of him that is structurally sound and one of the toughest in the league, led by Zdeno Chara. Sidney Crosby had a 6-foot-9 shadow in the big Bruins captain last game, who was very effective in shutting down his fellow captain – ending his eight-game point streak. In addition to his work defensively and on the NHL’s top-ranked penalty kill, Chara also scored a power-play goal with a slapper from the point. He certainly showed just how tough of an opponent he is in all situations.

The Bruins are just as structurally sound on the front end with a balanced forward lineup. All of their lines can score, but the trio that’s been their best this season is Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. They had a great game on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, with Seguin scoring off a pretty pass from Bergeron.

However, on Saturday in Washington the line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton stepped up to carry the offense, combining for two goals and nine points. The Bruins had been looking for more consistency from that line, and they brought a big effort on Saturday. Lucic is a big body that’s physical on the forecheck, Krejci brings skill and finesse and Horton combines all of those attributes into one package.

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Jay Pandolfo - Rich Peverley - Jordan Caron
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Dougie Hamilton
Adam McQuaid - Andrew Ference

(Getty Images)

Lucic didn’t score a goal on Saturday, extending his scoreless drought to 11 games, but got the primary assist on three of his team’s four goals in the win. It looks like he’s starting to get back playing the way he needs to in order to be successful, and expect a hungry Lucic to show up on Saturday looking to break his drought. He’s a tough opponent because of his size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and the way he uses it to be physical on the forecheck and around the net. He’ll be a lot for the Penguins defense to handle on Sunday.

Look for Kennedy to hit the ice with confidence on Sunday, as he broke through with a big game on Saturday in Pittsburgh’s win over the Rangers, scoring a goal and adding an assist for his first two-point effort of the season. He gave the Rangers problems all afternoon with his speed, so look for him to bring that energy to the ice Sunday against Boston to help crack the Bruins’ sound team defense.

F Evgeni Malkin, upper-body


F Chris Kelly, broken leg
C Marc Savard, post-concussion syndrome

Author: Michelle Crechiolo

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