And the second half of the season begins. On Tuesday, the third-place (Metro Division) Pittsburgh Penguins (27-11-8) will face the second wild-card team, the Boston Bruins (26-14-3), at TD Garden. It is the first game after the All-Star break for both teams and a test to bring their A-games.
Neither team ended the first half feeling good about their game. Boston squandered a 2-0 lead to the Seattle Kraken before rallying to a 3-2 win. However, they were blown out by the Dallas Stars 6-1 in the game before.
The Penguins are winless in four straight, including losses to Detroit, Seattle, LA, and Washington.
“My hope is that we’ve all had an opportunity to get away from the game for a little bit to recharge our batteries–and attack this second half of the season with a whole lot of enthusiasm and a whole lot of energy that I think our team is capable of playing with,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said after practice on Monday.
The Penguins are solidly in the playoff picture, 16 points ahead of the first team outside the wild-card position, the Detroit Red Wings. Boston is nine points ahead of Detroit.
So, both are in the playoffs, but it’s a matter of preparing for the Stanley Cup run that both want to make. Boston and head coach Bruce Cassidy have to settle the blue line, which has been haphazard with the puck. The Penguins have to settle their game with Evgeni Malkin in the lineup.
Tristan Jarry will start in the net for the Penguins. Jeremy Swayman will go for the Bruins. The Bruins shut down Tuukka Rask for at least a week on Monday.
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
*The Penguins PK is second in the league at 87.5%. The recent power-play hot-streak vaulted the Penguins’ PP to 22.1% (11th, NHL).
*The Penguins scored a season-high three power-play goals on Feb. 1 against Washington before the All-Star Break, giving them 17 goals on the man advantage in their last 16 games. Their 17 power-play goals in 2022 are first in the NHL, as is their 33.3% success rate in 2022 (17-for-51).
*Boston is equally good on special teams. The PK (83.2%, 8th) and PP (26.4%, 4th).
*F Michael Chaput and F Valtteri Puustinen were recalled from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL).
*Evgeni Malkin will not play due to COVID protocol. He was injured against the Bruins last March, and the injury required knee surgery which kept him out of the Penguins lineup until Jan. 11.
*Sidney Crosby (2-6-8) was the Penguins leading scorer against the Boston Bruins last year, and only Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk (10 PTS) and Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom (9 PTS) had more points against Boston than Crosby.
*The Penguins and Boston have traded wins against each other over each of the last seven head-to-head matchups (PIT is 3-4-0).
*Valteri Puustinen is with the Pittsburgh Penguins and could be the first member of the 2019 Draft Class, including Sam Poulin and Nathan Legare, to play in the NHL.
*The Penguins have allowed two or fewer goals in 28 of their 46 games this season (60.1%), going 22-1-5 in those games.
*Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry stopped 14 of 15 shots in the final period of the NHL All-Star Game, and the Metropolitan Division won the ASG.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Rickard Rakell|
|Danton Heinen||Ryan Poehling||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Brock McGinn||Sam Poulin||Drew O'Connor|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|P.O Joseph||Jan Rutta|
Bruins Lines, Per PuckPedia.com:
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T Sportsnet; Radio: 105.9 The X