Shakeups in Bruins’ Lines Could Lead to Offensive Spark Against Penguins

Shakeups in Bruins' Lines Could Lead to Offensive Spark Against Penguins If history repeats itself, the Bruins should be in good shape Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

On this date last year, Mark Recchi recorded his 900th NHL assist and Tim Thomas made 27 saves in a 3-0 Boston win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But putting the past aside, the Bruins have a good chance to take advantage of an uncharacteristic 7-7-1 Penguins team. This Pens team has struggled to start the season, but if the Bruins have learned anything over the years when facing Sidney Crosby's team, it's to not take them lightly.

With the Bruins dropping their previous two games against Washington and St. Louis, two of the more skilled and powerful teams in the NHL, they could use the two points against Pittsburgh — especially because Montreal is waiting for the them on Thursday night at the TD Garden.

Here are five things to look for in Wednesday night's game:

1. The new-look Bruins top line. With David Krejci expected to miss at least three games with a concussion, Patrice Bergeron will assume top-line centering duties. This will be a productive line now, with Bergeron centering Nathan Horton (6-5-11) and Milan Lucic (5-5-10). Blake Wheeler will take Bergeron's former spot on the second line, and Daniel Paille (a healthy scratch for the previous 10 games) will center Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder (provided he's healthy enough to play) on the B's third unit. The loss of Krejci without a doubt will be difficult for the Bruins, but the line changing could very well spark the Bruins offense.

2. Special teams. So far this season, the Bruins have had solid numbers for their special teams. While their power play continues to be a work in progress (21.4 percent), the Bruins have showed flashes of brilliance on the man advantage (2-for-3 vs. Washington last Friday). But their penalty killers have been near perfect (92.9 percent). Pittsburgh lost their power-play specialist this summer when Sergei Gonchar signed with Ottawa. Paul Martin has filled in admirably on the Pens' second power-play unit, but the team is still only 13.3 percent successful when skating with the extra man. The Bruins should have the advantage when either team is in the box.

3. Sidney Crosby. Whenever you face the Penguins (and this will be the first of four meetings between the Eastern Conference foes) you always have to factor in their captain as being a huge playmaker. Crosby is off to a fast start with 19 points in 15 games (including three goals in the last two games). He is second in the league in scoring behind Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos (24 points). Crosby's presence on the ice will be felt, even with his team underperforming.

4. Penguins goaltending. Given his performance so far, Brent Johnson might be in goal Wednesday for Pittsburgh. The veteran, a backup for most of his career, is 6-1-1 with a 1.63 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. Conversely, Marc-Andre Fleury has stumbled to a 1-6-0 start with a 3.55 GAA and an .853 save percentage. Said Bruins head coach Claude Julien, "I know that Fleury maybe hasn't found his groove yet. But the other guy has done a pretty good job for them as well." Hmm … sound familiar?

5. It's no Igloo. During stoppage of play, keep your eyes on the brand-spanking-new Consol Energy Center. Long gone are the days of the Igloo in downtown Pittsburgh, as the new $321 million dollar building in the heart of the city boasts to be one of the most technologically advanced buildings in the country. And be sure to check out the Big Bad Bruins Show this Saturday at 6 p.m. for a closer look at the new home of the Penguins. Naoko Funayama takes us on a behind-closed-doors tour of the impressive new arena.

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