PITTSBURGH The Bruins will get their first look at Sidney Crosby and the Penguins this season tonight at CONSOL Energy Center, and its a matchup both Crosby and buddy Patrice Bergeron have been looking forward to.
Crosby and Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury caught up with Bergeron on their way out of the building as Bergeron rode the stationary bike following Monday morning skate, but it will be all business when both centers suit up tonight with Eastern Conference supremacy on the line.
Im very happy for him that hes back and feeling good, Bergeron said of Crosby, who recently made his return to the ice from a concussion. Playing Pittsburgh you always think about Sid. I know it makes them a better team obviously, but hes a great guy and he deserves to be feeling 100 percent.
Crosby has 12 points in seven games since his return, and hell be counted on for additional support now that puck-moving defenseman Kris Letang has been knocked out indefinitely with a concussion stemming from the Max Pacioretty blindside hit.
The two top teams, you always get up for these games," Crosby said. "You look at it as more of a test. Obviously theyre Stanley Cup champions, and you look for those matchups and those games within the game.
Theyre pretty defensive. They play a team game. Their discipline and confidence in the way they play stands out. When you have success winning previously, you have confidence that youre going to win with that way again. Any good or successful team is going to have that.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma sees a team in the Bruins that are playing with a little more offensive bent than they were previously known for, but the Bs have been top five in offensive production over the last two years. So its not a new development rather than everyone around the league stepping up and taking notice that the Bruins can feature a bruising, overpowering puck possession game to go along with sound defense and elite goaltending.
Clearly their record stands for itself. They have not lost a regulation game in their last (14). Theyve been playing very good hockey and what Ive seen from them in the last 10 games is maybe the best hockey in the league, said Bylsma. They are very sound structurally and getting great efforts throughout their lineup. Theyre a good opponent. Im expecting a very physical game. They spend an awful lot of time in the offensive zone and theyre very good in that regard. They really grind teams down in the offensive zone.
Those grinding, physical qualities are things both the Bs and the Penguins have in common, and its that kind of even matchup that will force marquee guys like Crosby and Bergeron to step up tonight on the big stage.