Welcome to the What to Watch segment! Your key NHL game to post on the radar for your weekend hockey viewing.
For this weekend’s pick I will have to go with the Boston Bruins at the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday. Two top Eastern Conference clubs that are battling hard in March, and trying to get ready for the final stretch run before the Stanley Cup Playoffs!
Keys to victory for the Bruins:
-Back on Track: The Bruins have been playing fairly mediocre hockey as of late (5-4-1 in past 10). They have steadied the ship a bit with two straight wins, but it’s the first time since early January that they have won back-to-back games of consequence. They will need to stay focused this weekend, as they have the Capitals Saturday, then this match-up with Pittsburgh Sunday. They will need to get back on track – outworking teams and getting clutch goaltending – if they want to beat the Pens.
-When Opportunity Knocks: The Bruins have had some serious injury issues the past few weeks. Dan Paille, Andrew Ference, Rich Peverley and Tuukka Rask have all been sidelined with various issues. They have added some pieces from the AHL, and the trade deadline, and of course have signed NHL veteran Marty Turco to back-up Tim Thomas. Now the B’s need some of these replacements to grab their opportunities and contribute at a high level. Jordan Caron (6 points in last 5 games) has stepped up to the challenge with some big goals, and the team needs more of this Sunday.
-Nightmare Guests: The ‘black and gold’ have been great on the road in this campaign (20-11-1). That’s bad news for home teams throughout the entire league. If they have any chance of beating the hot Penguins Sunday, they will need to continue to be the nightmare visitors!
Keys to victory for the Penguins:
-Super Seven: As I write this, the Penguins have won seven-straight. They do have the Panthers Friday, so it could even be eight in a row by Sunday. During this current win streak, the team has been superb on special-teams, and even better at closing the opposition out. If they want to beat the B’s Sunday, they will need to keep this killer instinct going.
-Super 71: What can really be said about Evgeni Malkin?! He currently sits at 81 points (38 goals, 43 assists), and has put this club on his back and led in every way with captain Sidney Crosby still out of the picture. If Crosby does get back in the lineup before the playoffs – the Penguins will be beyond scary. Even if Sid remains out with concussion issues, Malkin appears poised to keep his MVP season going. He’s on pace for 113 points, which would tie his career-high set in 2009 (the year Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup).
-Cozy Igloo: Malkin and company have enjoyed great success on home ice (22-8-2). With numbers like that, and the roll they are currently on, this could be a tough one for the visitors. If the Pens can put together their typical type of home effort, expect a physical and exciting one Sunday.
Enjoy this battle! It should be an intense match-up, and it’s always entertaining when top Eastern Conference teams clash. And should I even mention the elephant in the room?! Rumors are out there that Sid the Kid may be back in the lineup sooner rather than later! Is this the game he wades back into action – find out Sunday!
Post any comments or observations you have about the ‘What to Watch‘ game in the ‘Mailbag‘ section, and I will gladly respond! Have a great NHL weekend.
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