BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins are clearly in the slogging-through-the-mud portion of their regular-season schedule. It’s showed with three regulation losses in their past six games, including fairly uninspired defeats at the hands of both Vancouver and Buffalo.
So, the Black and Gold are hoping that a Thursday night showdown with a reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champs might be the exact kind of thing to kick-start the Bruins into gear, even if they will be missing Patrice Bergeron (broken foot), along with healthy scratches Danton Heinen and Matt Grzelcyk.
The Penguins also should be properly motivated as they were on a roll with six consecutive wins in February, but ended the month with a pair of losses to Florida and New Jersey before rolling into Boston for a rivalry game. The Penguins have always brought out the best in the Bruins over the years since Sidney Crosby arrived in Pittsburgh and that’s exactly what Bruce Cassidy is hoping for a team that’s been much more inconsistent the past couple of weeks.
“I think the best thing for us to use the game to measure where we’re at,” said Cassidy. “It’s the two-time Stanley Cup champions that are playing very well right now, and some saying that they’re trending toward a third [Cup]. So, it will be a very good measuring stick for our hockey club to see where we’re at.”
More so than what the Penguins are bringing to the table, however, this is more about the Bruins getting closer to the team that they were from mid-November until mid-February when they were the NHL’s best. The special teams have slipped in recent weeks, the defense has shown some cracks and the offense is going to be challenged without their leading goal-scorer in Patrice Bergeron, but perhaps a date with the champs is exactly what the Bruins need right now in order to get the fire burning once again.
At least that’s what the Bruins are hoping as they kick off a hellish month of March where they will play 16 games in 31 days and look to get on the other side of it in one piece and ready to start preparations for the playoffs.