Mon Dec 05 05:23pm EST
The Boston Bruins visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night (preview) sitting three points out of the Eastern Conference lead with three games in-hand. They're 9-0-1 in their last 10 games; the Penguins are 5-1-1 since Sidney Crosby(notes) graced the NHL with his presence.
Patrice Bergeron(notes) of the Bruins is one of Crosby's friends and, as Michael Farber wrote for SI, a fellow member of the Brotherhood of the Concussion. Bergeron missed close to a year after a concussion on Oct. 27, 2007; he's been asked on a dozen occasions about Crosby's rehab and return to the NHL. Via Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com:
Crosby and Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) 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.
"I'm very happy for him that he's 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 he's a great guy and he deserves to be feeling 100 percent."
While the Penguins had the last change, the Bruins will likely work to get Bergeron out against Crosby's line. He's one of the NHL's premiere defensive centers — a Selke contender who owns the faceoff circle.
In fact, he's owned Crosby in the circle over their last five meetings. Here are Patrice Bergeron's faceoff numbers vs. Crosby:
|Offensive Zone||Defensive Zone||Neutral Zone||Total|
|11/10/2010||--||5-9 / 56%||3-4 / 75%||8-13 / 62%|
|3/18/2010||0-1 / 0%||2-4 / 50%||1-1 / 100%||3-6 / 50%|
|3/7/2010||2-2 / 100%||3-4 / 75%||2-4 / 50%||7-10 / 70%|
|11/14/2009||3-5 / 60%||3-8 / 38%||3-3 / 100%||9-16 / 56%|
|11/10/2009||3-5 / 60%||4-5 / 80%||2-3 / 67%||9-13 / 69%|
Bergeron is winning faceoffs at a 58.1-percent clip so far this season. After getting dominated by Brooks Laich(notes) in the Penguins' win over the Washington Capitals, Crosby acknowledged that his faceoffs needed work after this absence from the lineup. Crosby was a 55.6 percent before his injury and just 48.7 percent since his return.
If you don't think having the last change at home matters, consider this: Crosby has seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in his last three home games against the Bruins and Bergeron; in his last three road games, he's scoreless and a minus-4.
Again, the Bruins visit Pittsburgh tonight. Buckle in ...