The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins won a regulation game in Boston, Dan Bylsma was the head coach, Mike Sullivan was assisting John Tortorella with the New York Rangers, no Presidential candidates had yet ridden an escalator to prominence, and “What Does the Fox Say” by Ylvis was about to become the No. 1 streamed song in the country.
Sometimes, there is no accounting for good taste. The last time the Penguins won a regulation game in Boston was October 2013. They are winless since December 2015, which means despite the Penguins’ roaring success since Sullivan took over in late 2015, the Penguins coach has only one win behind the opposing bench in Boston. Sullivan coached on the Boston home bench from 2004 to 2006.
“For me, it’s I think it’s tonight is a new experience. It’s a new opportunity for us, regardless of what history looks like. And we’ve got an opportunity to control what’s in front of us,” Sullivan said. “And that’s the way we look at it. I don’t think what’s happened in the past has any influence on our ability to perform moving forward.”
The Penguins have won four in a row, including the last two over the New York Islanders, despite the Penguins lineup savaged by injuries. Winger Brandon Tanev will be a game-time decision, though neither Teddy Blueger nor goalie Tristan Jarry will play.
UPDATE: Brandon Tanev was activated. Lagace’s promotion was classified as an emergency recall.
The Penguins have a seven-point lead on Boston in the East Division, but Boston has played four fewer games.
Casey DeSmith will start in goal for the Penguins. DeSmith is 8-3-0 with a .929 save percentage and 1.91 GAA. Maxime Lagace is presumably the backup.
Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy announced Dan Vladar would start between the pipes for Boston. Vladar has won both games he started this season, including the 2-1 Bruins win over the Penguins on March 17.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines & Special Teams
*We’re guessing where Tanev fits and how that affects both Sam Lafferty and Evan Rodrigues.
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Brad Marchand||Patrice Bergeron||David Pastrnak|
|Taylor Hall||David Krejci||Craig Smith|
|Nick Ritchie||Sean Kuraly||Charlie Coyle|
|Trent Frederic||Curtis Lazar||Chris Wagner|
|Matt Grzelczyk||Charlie McAvoy|
|Mike Reilly||Kevan Miller|
|Jeremy Lauzon||Steve Kampher|
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
What to Watch
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The game will have a few key matchups and stylistic clashes. The Bruins physicality and the recent struggles have caused head coach Bruce Cassidy to call out team leaders to be more productive, scorers to play harder, and young defensemen to be more physical.
While the Penguins and Bruins split the recent two games series on March 15 and 17, there was little doubt Boston physically imposed itself on the Penguins. The Bruins doled out 76 hits and caused injury to Evgeni Malkin and Teddy Blueger. Neither has played since.
We can discount the “Boston curse.”
“I don’t think it’s any different than any other building, you know, we’re still playing the same game,” Sullivan said. “The rules are the same, the dimensions of the rink of the same.”
Another player to watch is Jared McCann. PHN will be writing a lot more about him, but here’s a teaser.
“I just think the details of his game (that) he’s paid more attention to. He’s competing hard on pucks,” Sullivan complimented. “I think he’s he’s been a lot stiffer on the puck in all three zones…”
McCann has six points in his last four games.
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
*The Bruins are playing game 5 tonight of a 7-game homestand (2-1-1), which is tied for the longest homestand in club history.
*BRUINS INJURIES (Total man-games lost in 2020-21: 139)
– Jake DeBrusk – Covid protocol
– Kevan Miller – lower body
– Ondrej Kase – upper body
– Tuukka Rask – upper body
– John Moore – hip surgery
*The Bruins are 74-22-6-4 vs. the Penguins lifetime on home ice.
*Penguins Injuries: Position, Player (Consecutive Games Missed, Total Games Missed)
-D Mark Friedman (14 consecutive, 14 total)
-F Teddy Blueger (8 consecutive, 8 total)
-F Evgeni Malkin (7 consecutive, 7 total)
-F Brandon Tanev (6 consecutive, 6 total)
-F Kasperi Kapanen (3 consecutive, 3 total)
2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 193
*The Penguins’ poor starts are a thing of the past. In the first period on Monday, their two goals upped their season total to 37, the second-most in the NHL.
*Despite being injured in the first period, Tristan Jarry earned his 13th win in his last 18 starts. Jarry’s win marked the 10th time in NHL history a goaltender started a game, faced five or fewer shots, and earned the win. The last goalie to do so was Semyon Varlamov on Feb. 16, 2015, with Colorado.
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 105.9 The X