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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Penguins, Tuesday 11/10

“Sid the Kid” and the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins visit the TD Garden this evening for a skate against the Bruins. Pittsburgh will be making their final stop on a cross-country four-game road trip, on which they are 1-2-0 thus far. The Penguins (12-5-0) sit in a tie atop the Eastern Conference, knotted with the Washington Capitals at 24 points each. They are currently in the midst of their first losing streak of the year, coming off a 5-2 loss to the Kings Thursday, followed by an embarrassing 5-0 defeat in San Jose to the Sharks on Saturday.

For the Bruins (7-7-2), they will look to build off their impressive 4-2 win over division-leading Buffalo Saturday night. Boston will likely see center David Krejci back in their lineup this evening. Krejci has been sidelined the past two games while battling the H1N1 virus. Winger Michael Ryder missed practice yesterday while feeling “under the weather,” but was back on the ice for this morning’s team skate. The only Bruin missing from this morning’s pre-gamer was defenseman Derek Morris, who was feeling ill this morning. Head coach Claude Julien does consider Morris “probable” for tonight’s game, however. Indications are that Tim Thomas will start tonight in goal for Boston.

Here now, a few nuggets of knowledge heading into tonight’s big matchup…

  • If there is a team that has had to battle more injuries than Boston thus far, it’s Pittsburgh. The Pens will be without 5 of their regulars this evening, including Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) and ex-Bruin Sergei Gonchar (broken wrist). Also absent from the Pittsburgh lineup…defenseman Kris Letang (upper body), and forwards Maxime Talbot (shoulder) and Tyler Kennedy (groin).
  • Before Saturday’s game with Buffalo, Boston was mired in an 0-for-20 power play slump. Pittsburgh now has that mark beat, as they currently find themselves in an 0-for-21 slump on the man-advantage.
  • Pittsburgh is of course led by captain Sidney Crosby. Crosby, with 9 goals and 7 assists in 17 games, is currently pointless in his last 4 games. Also atop Pittsburgh’s stat sheet is the injured Evgeni Malkin (4G, 10A), and defenseman Alex Goligoski (6G, 7A).
  • In goal, the Pens feature Marc-Andre Fleury (10-4-0, 2.52GAA) and backup Brent Johnson (2-1-0, 2.38GAA). Fleury, the Stanley Cup winning goalie, is likely to be named one of Canada’s three goaltenders for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February.
  • Fans might do a double-take when they see the last name “Bourque” back on Garden ice this evening. Chris Bourque, son of long-time Bruin Ray, joined the Pens in the offseason after spending two seasons with Washington. Bourque, who spent one year at Boston University before turning pro, has one assist in nine games played so far this season.
  • Two former BC Eagles can be found on the Penguins’ roster also. Defenseman Brooks Orpik spent three seasons at Boston College, after going to high school at Thayer Academy in Braintree. He is currently in his 7th NHL season, all with Pittsburgh. And a player familiar to Bruins’ fans, Worcester-born Bill Guerin, who spent 1 1/2 seasons with the Black & Gold in ’01 and ’02, is with his 8th NHL team in Pittsburgh. Guerin, who played two years at BC, celebrated his 39th birthday yesterday.
  • Familiar faces can be found in the Pittsburgh front office as well. Ex-Bruin and Billerica, MA native Tom Fitzgerald is currently serving as Assistant GM to General Manager Ray Shero.
  • Lastly, news about Penguins’ Team President David Morehouse, who is expected to make a full recovery after sustaining a heart attack Sunday morning in San Jose, before boarding a flight back home after Pittsburgh’s loss to the Sharks the previous night. The 48-year-old Morehouse remains in a San Jose hospital and is expected to be released later this week.

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