The Pens are 5-1-1 since Crosby's return on November 21. Crosby has 2 goals (both in his first game back) and a ridiculous 10 assists already in the 7 games he has played this year. Pittsburgh sits atop the Eastern Conference with 36 points, but the Bruins are right on their tails with 33 points and three games in hand.
Pittsburgh, like the Bruins, has tremendous depth down the middle. Crosby, Malkin, and Jordan Staal are the top three centermen for the Pens. When Jordan Staal is your third-line center, that is ridiculous depth. I would expect Zdeno Chara to be out against Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis as much as possible, but the Pens' depth means that the other pairings will have to be on their game.
Backups Brent Johnson and Tuukka Rask started for the Pens and Bruins, respectively, on Saturday,which sets up a marquee goaltending matchup between Marc-Andre Fleury and Tim Thomas. Fleury has an outstanding 2.11 GAA and .923 SV% this season, and is 7-4-2 in his career against Boston.
The Bruins are obviously on fire, but this is a huge test on the road against a team that they might see if they get deep into the playoffs. They might get the Pens in a weakened state, though, as defenseman Kris Letang went on the IR today and Zbynek Michalek is questionable. Both have concussion-related issues. Letang is especially important, as he's one of the best offensive defensemen in the game. Staal took a puck in the face Saturday night against Carolina but is reportedly fine. He'll likely be wearing a visor.
Tonight should be a great test for the Bruins. Here's hoping it's 15 in a row unbeaten in regulation.
Bruins@Penguins 7:00 p.m. EST TV: NESN SB Nation Penguins Blog: PensBurgh