Penguins vs. Bruins, Game 76: Lines, Starting Goalies & How to Watch
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a few really good reasons to try to defeat Boston at PPG Paints Arena this afternoon.
The most important is also the most obvious: With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Penguins still are not assured of a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
That means every point they can earn in their final seven games, beginning with that meeting with the Bruins sometime after 3 p.m., is potentially precious, and could be what qualifies them for postseason competition for the 17th consecutive season.
But beating the Bruins — something only a dozen teams have managed to do in regulation in 2022-23 — would have the added benefit of enhancing the chances that the Penguins won’t have to try to do it four times in a best-of-seven Round 1 series later this month.
If the season ended today (spoiler alert: It isn’t going to), the Penguins would, indeed, be matched against Boston, which already has locked up the Presidents’ Trophy, which goes to the NHL’s top regular-season team, and home-ice advantage in every playoff series in which it participates.
Now, it’s possible that the Penguins could upset the Bruins; it’s also possible that the Pirates will win the World Series. That doesn’t mean that wagering on either would be prudent.
The Penguins have shown, at times, that they are capable of elevating their game to a rarefied level. Trouble is, Boston did likewise early in the season and, unlike the Penguins, have pretty much kept it there.
The Bruins are scoring an average of 3.67 goals per game, second-highest figure in the NHL, and allowing a league-low 2.09. A pretty good rule of thumb is that if you’re scoring about 1 1/2 more goals than you’re giving up, you’re going to win a lot of games.
In Boston’s case, it has translated to a record of 58-12-5, including a 1-0-1 against the Penguins.
If the Bruins have a vulnerability, it might be rooted in their remarkable success.
Aside from chasing history, they really don’t have much for which to play in the waning days of the season. That would explain why the Bruins lost to Nashville at TD Garden, 2-1, Tuesday and had to go to overtime two nights later there to beat Columbus.
Of course, the Bruins had won seven in a row before that little hiccup this week.
Having to contend with these Bruins in Round 1 of the playoffs would be very difficult for any team. But not as tough as failing to be involved in the playoffs at all would be.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
Expected Boston Bruins Lines
Penguins power play: 57 for 261, 21.8%, 12th in NHL
Penguins penalty-kill: 50 for 237, 78.9%, 18th in NHL
Bruins power play: 56 for 260, 21.5%, 15th in NHL
Bruins penalty-kill: 35 for 258, 86.4%, 1st in NHL
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
This game kicks off a stretch during which the Penguins will play four times in six days, with three of those games against teams that will be in the playoffs. After facing Philadelphia, which will not qualify for the postseason, at home Sunday, they will travel to New Jersey for a game Tuesday, then return home to face Minnesota Thursday.
Tristan Jarry’s 28-save shutout against Nashville Thursday was the 13th of his career, most by any Penguins goaltender in his first 200 games.
Evgeni Malkin has at least one point in 10 consecutive home games, with three goals and 13 assists in that span.
The Penguins are 9-2-1 in their past 12 home games against Boston.
Sidney Crosby, who does not have a point in three games, has 17 goals and 49 assists in 54 career games against the Bruins. Those 66 points are the most any active player has put up against Boston.
Penguins winger Jake Guentzel and Boston’s David Pastrnak have goals in three games in a row.
The Bruins are a staggering 38-1-3 when scoring the first goal. The Penguins, by contrast, are 21-10-6 when they get a 1-0 lead.
Boston left winger Brad Marchand, a longtime Penguins nemesis, does not have a goal in his past 11 games.
The Bruins are 27-8-2 on the road, including a 6-5 overtime victory at PPG Paints Arena Nov. 1, when the Bruins scored three times in the final 7:03 of regulation.
Boston has not allowed a power-play goal in six of its past seven games.
How to Watch
Radio: 105.9 the X