The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins face down in an ongoing NHL regular championship game.
The Boston Bruins are on a roll, boasting a winning streak of four consecutive games, conceding only seven goals in total. This has rocketed the team to the top of the league standings. Though their opponents in these matches were not season leaders (Columbus, Detroit, Buffalo, New Jersey), Boston reaffirmed their potency by ranking third in the league on defensive charts. Czech player Pastrnak has racked up 50 points with 22 goals, while Marchand and Coyle each netted 13 goals. The forward, van Riemsdyk, deserves a special mention, having accumulated three points in the game against Columbus and having been a key figure in the team's recent successes.
After overcoming a loss streak before Christmas, Boston revamped their line-up, which positively reflected in their game. Van Riemsdyk, alongside Frederic and Heinen, scored the last three goals against Columbus. Forward Merkulov and defender Lohrey, ready for the upcoming games despite their injuries, contribute to strengthening the team's roster. Young forward Georgiy Merkulov, called from the AHL Providence club, has so far played 3 matches without any points.
The Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves in a restructuring phase following their recent 3:4 loss against Washington, where all four goals were conceded in the first period. This defeat brought an end to the Penguins' three-game winning streak, during which they had only allowed one goal, including a successful transition into overtime against Ottawa on December 24th. Pittsburgh also registered victories against Carolina, Minnesota, Islanders, and St. Louis. On average for the season, the team scores 2.87 goals and allows 2.78 per game. Captain Sidney Crosby has scored a total of 38 points this season with 21 goals, whereas Guentzel leads the team with 42 points. Malkin also made a significant contribution with 14 goals and 18 assists.
The loss to Washington can be attributed to Jarry's shaky performance, who was swiftly replaced by Nedeljkovic. Pittsburgh's head coach Mike Sullivan noted that the team was not at the top of their game, especially goalkeeper Tristan Jarry. Despite this, Crosby achieved a 1:1 in the last match, making him the 12th top scorer in NHL history with 1540 points, surpassing the great Joe Thornton. Penguins remain within striking distance of the Conference leaders. In December, the team showed 7-3-3 results, partly due to the return of Bryan Rust who had been previously sidelined with an injury.
The Bruins boast 4 wins in the last 5 matches, all of them rather close: three were one-goal wins or ended in overtime. The last match on 1st April 2023 saw Boston triumphing with a score of 4:3. Earlier, on 2nd January 2023, Boston also secured a victory over Pittsburgh with a score of 2:1. In November 2022, the teams participated in an intense game that ended with Boston's victory in overtime, scoring 6:5. However, in April 2022, Pittsburgh dominated the ice, securing a solid 4:0 victory.
Boston shows impressive results and currently leads in the East, demonstrating solid defensive play and effective attack. Their recent four consecutive victories and the low record of goals conceded underline the high level of team cooperation. Pittsburgh, despite having talent in their ranks, has been showing irregular performance recently. The loss to Washington in the last match, particularly considering the opening period where the team conceded four goals, highlights their current weaknesses in defence. Considering the head-to-head and taking all of the factors into account, I think Boston stands a good chance of winning the upcoming game.