Just the facts
When: 7 PM
Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA
How to follow: NESN, NBCSN (out of market), 98.5 The Sports Hub
Rival SBN site: Pensburgh
Know your enemy
- Evgeni Malkin: 36G-40A-76PTS
- Phil Kessel: 26G-44A-70PTS
- Sidney Crosby: 21G-48A-69PTS
- Believe it or not, the Penguins are peaking at the right time! Yes, again. The Pens were out of the playoff picture just a few weeks back, but now sit in third in the Metro with 76 points (3 behind first-place Washington). It’s funny to think that people once counted out a team with Crosby, Kessel, Malkin, etc. but here they are again.
- Speaking of Malkin, is it possible that he’s somehow underrated? Malkin has played in the shadow of the best player on Earth for his entire career. Like Nicklas Backstrom in Washington, Malkin has put up elite numbers behind his even more elite teammate. This year, however, Malkin is leading the charge. The Russian forward has 76 points in 60 games. 76 points!!!! That’s a 104-point pace over a full season. Dude’s a monster.
- The Penguins are 7-2-1 in their last ten, with the two losses coming in their last two games (including a Tuesday loss to New Jersey). They’re dealing with a big loss, as goalie Matt Murray is out with a concussion. The Pens are going to be forced to lean on Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith; Jarry, you’ll remember, was in net for parts of that bananas game the Bruins played in Pittsburgh back in January. Neither is quite an elite netminder.
- Tonight is probably the night you REALLY feel Patrice Bergeron’s absence. Normally, he’d be a thorn in the side of Sidney Crosby; instead, he’ll be forced to watch from the 9th floor and hope his teammates can keep his buddy from running wild.
- Zach Aston-Reese has made an impact in his rookie season with Pittsburgh. The former Northeastern Husky has 4 goals and 2 assists in 10 games. Unfortunately, he’s sidelined with an upper body injury, so he’ll have to admire that Northeastern Beanpot banner from the press box.
- Two newcomers made their presence felt last time out, as Rick Nash and Tommy Wingels had strong games. What about Nick Holden? Maybe....? Bruce Cassidy wants to get him in a game sooner rather than later, and tonight might be the night. Or it might not be. MYSTERY!!!
- Speaking of newcomers, former Senator Derick Brassard made his Pittsburgh debut on Tuesday night. He had 2 goals and 6 assists in the Bruins’ playoff series loss to Ottawa last spring, and brings another layer of talent to the Penguins...as if they needed it.
- Tonight’s game will be an interesting contrast in styles: the league’s second-best defense against the league’s fifth-best offense. THE ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN.
- Phil Kessel is great and any arguments to the contrary will not be heard.