Penguins Weekly: Bruins Present Tough Task

Your Pittsburgh Penguins are on a five-game win streak.

How good does that sound after the type of start the team got off to at the beginning of the season?

I hate to keep bringing up the slow start the Penguins had, but it’s crucial to remember what was going wrong for them and how they got to where they are now — third place in the MassMutual East Division.

Kasperi Kapanen Pittsburgh Penguins
Kasperi Kapanen has been a huge part of the Penguins’ success lately. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

While the Penguins are winners of six of their last seven games, they will face a tough test this week with a pair of games against the team that is on their heels in the division — the Boston Bruins.

If the Penguins can steal these two games from the fourth-place Bruins, Pittsburgh can nearly coast through the rest of the month as six of their remaining seven games in the month of March are against bottom-feeders New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.

What Are the Penguins Up Against With Boston?

As we all might know, the top four spots in each division clinch a playoff berth. As it stands right now, the Penguins are three points up on the Bruins and are separated by six points from the Philadelphia Flyers. But, let’s not forget that both of those teams have two games in hand on the Penguins.

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and the Boston Bruins could be a tough task for the Penguins. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Bruins enter Monday’s contest at PPG Paints Arena with a 4-4-2 record in their last 10 games and a 14-7-4 record overall. More notably, Boston was shut out on home ice against the sixth-place New York Rangers on Saturday, 4-0.

It marked the second time the Bruins were held scoreless in a game, and here’s the thing; the other shutout loss was against the New Jersey Devils, who are in seventh place in the division. It’s one thing getting shut out, it’s a whole other thing getting blanked by two of the worst teams in your division.

I don’t think you can put it on one thing. You see a game like that, as a coach you say, ‘Are we tired? Or are we out of shape?’ And then you sort through it and realize there are some people out of the lineup that allow you to play faster so your team looks faster and crisper. It’s not an easy answer.

– Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy via NHL.com

Don’t be fooled, though. The Bruins are still a very good team with high-end offensive weapons like David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. Granted, they did start the season 10-1-2.

The Bruins’ skid presents the perfect opportunity for the Penguins, however. If the Penguins can take advantage of the faltering B’s, they give themselves a bigger cushion and even put pressure on the second-place Washington Capitals, who loom just three points ahead in second place.

Jarry Carrying the Penguins

Tristan Jarry will get the start in net for the Penguins on Monday against the Bruins and there is no better man for the job right now.

Jarry has been spectacular of late, riding a three-game winning streak, but has not been able to solve the Bruins as he is winless in his previous two starts against Boston. Yet, that was a different Jarry — a struggling netminder.

Jarry is 9-3-0 since Feb. 14 while notching a 2.49 goals-against average in that time. In his last five games, he has a .917 save percentage with arguably his best game coming on March 2 against Philadelphia, a 40-save win.

Jarry will be a crucial part of the Penguins’ success in this back-to-back set against Boston as a win on Monday will make it much easier for Casey DeSmith to steal another win on Tuesday.

Housekeeping

The Penguins have re-assigned defenseman Josh Maniscalco to the taxi squad, general manager Ron Hextall announced on Saturday. Maniscalco, a Pennsylvania native, is in his first professional season with the club.

Also announced on Saturday was the Penguins teaming up with UPMC to provide a vaccination site at PPG Paints Arena. More information is available on the Penguins’ website.


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