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Penguins vs. Bruins, Winter Classic! Lines, Notes & How to Watch

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Winter Classic, Boston Bruins

BOSTON — The Pittsburgh Penguins (19-11-6) play Game No. 37 of their schedule against the Boston Bruins (28-4-4) on Monday. But this one is special. The 2023 Winter Classic at Fenway Park will be a visual spectacle with emotional ties for Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and a serious game for the Penguins, which badly need a win.

However, it’s still the Winter Classic. The puck will drop just after 2:30 p.m.

“This one is really unique for me, in an iconic stadium like Fenway Park,” the Boston native Sullivan said. “This one has a personal level for me, just growing up in this area and being a Red Sox fan.”

Sullivan said with a smile that no one was a bigger Red Sox fan than his father, but one of his uncles was close.

The Penguins have lost four in a row and have just one win in their last six games. They have also turned in a few stinkers in the process. The Penguins are tied with the New York Islanders at 44 points for the second wild-card spot but have two games in hand. Both teams are five points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Penguins third line has become a lightning rod for criticism, and winger Kasperi Kapanen hit back on Sunday. However, the Penguins’ top line is also dry since the NHL holiday break. Sidney Crosby has not scored a point in three games since the season resumed on Dec. 27.

He will have a tall task Monday against Bruins’ perennial Selke favorite Patrice Bergeron, and the typically slower outdoor ice. Sullivan also tinkered with the lines ahead of the Winter Classic. At practice Monday, Bryan Rust took the RW spot beside Crosby. Rickard Rakell took the right wing beside Evgeni Malkin.

And Teddy Blueger was the third-line center, with Jeff Carter on the right.

The Boston Bruins are galloping away from the Atlantic Division. They already have an eight-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs and a four-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for the Presidents’ Trophy. Boston also has a plus-56 goal differential, 23 goals better than the second-place Dallas Stars, and 25 better than the second-place Eastern Conference team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In short, the Bruins are having an outstanding season.

Follow our colleagues at Boston Hockey Now (Joe Haggerty, Jimmy Murphy).

The Penguins will try to separate the pagentry of the spectacle with the reality it is a regular season game worth two points to the winner. Coach Mike Sullivan said the team has to remember, “it’s a business trip.”

And the Penguins have quite a bit of business to attend.

Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:

Guentzel-Crosby-Rust

Zucker-Malkin-Rakell

McGinn-Blueger-Carter

Heinen-Poehling-Kapanen

Defense:

Pettersson-Rutta

Joseph-Friedman

Dumoulin-Smith

Goalie:

Tristan Jarry

Expected Bruins Lines, per Boston Hockey Now

Marchand-Bergeron-DeBrusk

Zacha- Krejci-Pastrnak

Hall-Coyle-Frederic

Foligno-Nosek-Greer/Smith

Defense:

Lindholm-McAvoy

Grzelcyk-Carlo

Forbort-Clifton

Goalies:

Linus Ullmark

Special Teams:

Penguins Power Play: 22.6%, 14th

Penguins Penalty Kill: 83.9%, 3rd

Bruins Power Play: 27.6%, 6th

Bruins Penalty Kill: 84.7%, 1st

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:

The Penguins lost their last game against the Bruins, 6-5 in OT on Nov. 1.

The overall matchup has been even. The teams have alternated wins in the last 11 meetings, and the Penguins are 5-5-1.

It is the fifth outdoor game for associate coach Todd Reirden. He was an assistant coach with the Penguins for the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field and the 2014 Stadium Series game versus the Chicago Blackhawks at Soldier Field, and was an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals at the 2015 Winter Classic against Chicago at Nationals Park and associate coach at the 2018 Stadium Series game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

It was 15 years ago when the Penguins played in the first Winter Classic against the Buffalo Sabres. Sidney Crosby scored the iconic shootout winner with the incomparable voice of Doc Emerick highlighting the moment.

Since Dec. 1, the Penguins have scored a power-play goal in 11 of their last 13 games, and the team’s 32.0% conversion rate is fourth best in the NHL.

The Penguins penalty killing unit has made massive strides over the last 21 games. With Teddy Blueger, the Penguins have allowed a power-play goal in only four of 21 games, and have climbed from the league’s 24th-ranked penalty kill to third.

Sidney Crosby is one goal shy of 20. When he accomplishes this feat, he would become the 29th player in NHL history to reach the 20-goal plateau in 15 or more season.

When Evgeni Malkin scored on Friday night, he became the second-highest scoring Russian in NHL history.

How to Watch:

TV: TNT, Sportsnet, TVA.

Radio: 105.9 The X

Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.