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PREVIEW: Bruins host Penguins in clash of East divisions

Pittsburgh is floating on the bubble in a wildcard spot after fourteen games, giving us a very premature potential playoff matchup.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Just the facts

When: 7:00PM (Eastern)

Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA

How to Follow: NESN, NHLN, TVAS, SNE, SNO, SNP; 98.5 The Sports Hub on the radio/internets

Rival Site: PensBurgh

Know your enemy

The Penguins have only recently been blessed with the return of Evgeni Malkin, who emerged from a month-long hiatus due to a lower-body injury. Though he was point-less in his return against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, he played nearly 20 minutes and it would appear at first sight that the injury isn’t nagging him. Goalie Matt Murray is hovering around the middle of the league in terms of save percentage, though his .924 is a little above what one might consider ‘average’. To the credit of the team in front of him, in their last outing against the high-octane offense of the Oilers, the Penguins nearly doubled the possession statistics of their opponent... and still lost, 2-1, in overtime.

Game Notes

  • With injuries mounting (again), Boston may need to draw on depth in Providence. Though David Krejci is back, Karson Kuhlman, Par Lindholm, Brett Ritchie, Joakim Nordstrom, and David Backes are all on the sidelines. Peter Cehlarik has an opportunity to get a few games under his belt and find some linemate chemistry, something coach Bruce Cassidy (hopefully) will provide.
  • Goalie Tuukka Rask has been outstanding so far, nearing a shared record for points streak to start a season among B’s netminders. He also leads the league in save percentage and has for a few weeks now. Jaroslav Halak has looked solid and should see plenty of starts come his way as the Bruins aim to keep Rask feeling rested.
  • Pittsburgh, clearly missing their center depth in Malkin for most of the first month of the season, has been on-and-off against the range of opponent quality. Definitive wins against Dallas and Philadelphia are canceled by falling a little flat against the Tampa Bay Lightning and looking lackluster in a loss to the Florida Panthers. It’s worth noting that they’ve scored seven goals in four games so far this season - against non-playoff teams. (Yes, it’s still early.)
  • Just in case you misssed him, Colby Cave had this gem against the Pens on Saturday. Marcus Pettersson got absolutely roasted ‘round the outside.