Penguins at Bruins Preview: 2023 Winter Classic
The first Winter Classic winners, the Pittsburgh Penguins, return to the NHL’s marquee event 12 years later.
For the third time in the history of the event, the team that won the NHL’s original Winter Classic in 2008 in a foot of snow in Buffalo returns to its grand stage once again. This time the Penguins face the Bruins at the most famous stadium in North America: Fenway Park.
Pittsburgh isn't coming into this game with much zip though. They're on a four-game losing streak but the turn of the New Year marks a new page for the Pens and their stars are the best in the biz at shining when on center stage.
Boston too will bring their stars and Cup experience that almost matches the Penguins'. And they're similarly trying to rebound from a loss, being defeated in overtime by the Sabres on New Year's Eve.
Both teams are very familiar with the Winter Classic. The Bruins have participated three times prior to the 2023 event. They won two of their three prior appearances: in 2010 vs. Flyers at this game's venue, Fenway Park, and in 2019 vs. the Blackhawks at Notre Dame. They lost on the Patriot's home turf in Foxboro to the Montreal Canadiens in 2016.
The Penguins meanwhile are one of the game's founding teams and won the original which was played in Buffalo vs. the aforementioned Sabres back in 2008. That event has gone down as one of the most iconic moments of the Sidney Crosby era. Crosby won the then experimental, novelty game in a shootout in blizzard conditions in front of 71, 217 fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium on New Year's Day. (Check out a terrific recap HERE via the Sabres website and a photographic recap HERE from Sports Illustrated.)
In many ways that Winter Classic moment marked the arrival of the Crosby generation Penguins' taking their place among the NHL's most prominent teams. Those Pens would go on to make the Stanley Cup Finals just a few months later that spring and do it once again a year later when they won the first of their three (and counting?) Stanley Cups in 2009.
The Pens had less luck their second time around when hosting the game at home in Pittsburgh in 2011. They were defeated at Heinz Field by their arch-rival Washington Capitals in a rain-soaked event. And worse still they lost Sidney Crosby to his infamous long-term head injury from a blindside hit by Capital David Steckel in the process. It would take the team years to recover from the events of the day.
It's about time for them to correct that bitter experience after waiting over a decade by returning to Classic success in Boston.
The game kicks off at 2 PM (ET) and is exclusively airing on TNT in the US and on Sportsnet or TVA Sports in Canada.
Penguins Game #37: Winter Classic 2023- Pittsburgh Penguins at Boston Bruins
Date: January 2, 2023
Time: 2 PM (ET)
Place: Boston, MA
Venue: Fenway Park
Social Media Hashtags #: #LetsGoPens #NHLBruins #WinterClassic
Records- PIT: 19-11-6, BOS: 28-4-4
Last 10- PIT: 5-3-2, BOS: 7-0-3
Streaks- PIT: 4 Losses, BOS: 1 Loss
Standings- PIT: 13th, BOS: 1st
Points- PIT: 44, BOS: 60
Season Series- 1-0 BOS
Series Goals For- PIT: 5, BOS: 6
Team Stats Comparison:
Projected starting goalies-
-TRISTAN JARRY- #35
Bio Info: 6' 2", 194 lbs. DOB: 4/29/1995 (27). From: Surrey, BC.
Drafted: 2013- Rd 2, Pk 44 (PIT). Experience: 7th Season.
Record: 15-5-4, 2.78 GAA, .917 SV%
Career vs. BOS: 3-5-3, 3.21 GAA, .905 SV%
-LINUS ULLMARK- #35
Bio Info: 6' 4", 215 lbs. DOB: 7/31/1993 (29). From: Lugnvik, Sweden.
Drafted: 2012- Rd 6, Pk 163 (BUF). Experience: 8th Season.
Record: 20-1-1, 1.90 GAA, .938 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 2-0-0, 4.24 GAA, .897 SV%
Winter Classic Update:
Watch out for bad bounces during the game at Fenway. This venue info comes from reporter Seth Rorabaugh of TribLive on Twitter: “Per Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton, the boards for the temporary rink at Fenway Park are lively.”
The ice at Penguins practice gives us the best indication of what its quality for the game will be. The Pens skated about an hour after the Bruins did the same. The rink conditions were only fair. Slush build-up and skate spray were high indicating a sub-optimal playing surface awaits on Monday. There were no standing puddles at least but rain thrown into the mix during the event would likely result in some. This is a problem we've seen happen in numerous past outdoor games.
Kris Letang, Josh Archibald, and Jeff Petry did not take the pre-game skate on Sunday and are out for the game. Brian Dumoulin wore Letang's assistant captain's letter "A" for team photos making #58's pending absence very official.
Chad Ruhwedel practiced but was not included in line rushes with the defenseman which indicates Ty Smith will get another go with the Penguins. Smith is playing just his second game with the team on the league's largest platform.
Smith was a plus-one with four shots and four hits in 22:14 minutes ice time in his debut vs. New Jersey. He also saw 11:10 TOI on the powerplay as the QB of the number one unit. That's the one area the Penguins want results from him in. It's what has him playing on the top PP over P.O. Joseph despite it being his very first game with the team.
Some top-six switches are upcoming for Monday: Bryan Rust returned to the top line with his long-time linemates of Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Rickard Rakell was shifted back to the second line in his place. The powerplay units remained untouched, however. Rust stays on the second and Rakell on the first.
Ryan Poehling returned vs. New Jersey but his ice time was low. He was used cautiously, particularly rotating with Jeff Carter on the penalty kill. Which is usually Poehling's specialty, so the team is playing to his strengths as well. That may indicate that he’s still not at 100% health-wise.
The Pens have a major issue that was highlighted against the Devils: both a lack of scoring at 5 vs. 5 and now a total dry spell on the powerplay too. Going not just 0 for 9 on PP on Friday but minus a goal conceded short-handed to New Jersey. It's not great news for a powerplay that was humming along just a few games ago.
-Josh Archibald (F): lower-body, day-to-day.
-Kris Letang (D): lower-body, day-to-day.
-Jeff Petry (D): IR, upper-body, undisclosed.
-Chad Ruhwedel (D): upper-body, day-to-day.
The projected Penguins lines for Monday, January 2, 2023's Winter Classic at the Boston Bruins:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Brock McGinn - Teddy Blueger - Jeff Carter
Danton Heinen - Ryan Poehling - Kasperi Kapanen
Marcus Pettersson - Jan Rutta
P. O. Joseph - Mark Friedman
Brian Dumoulin - Ty Smith
#1: Tristan Jarry
#2: Casey DeSmith
PP1: Malkin, Crosby, Guentzel, Rakell, Smith
PP2: Carter, Rust, Zucker, Kapanen, Joseph
PK1: Blueger, McGinn, Dumoulin, Rutta
PK2: Poehling/Carter, Rust, Pettersson, Friedman
A win isn't going to come easily for the 'Guins. The Bruins haven’t had a regulation loss in their last 10 games. They're as stout as an opponent comes.
Their starting goalie, Linus Ullmark, still only has a single regulation loss this entire season three months in and back-up Jeremy Swayman only has three losses. Both netminders are solid, so no matter who ends up playing net during the course of the game they'll be a challenge.
Boston also comes in with a completely healthy roster, much unlike the Penguins. Thomas Nosek is available to return from injury and he was their only man on the injured list. He did not feature in their practice lines though.
-2022-23 Team Leaders vs. Penguins-
Goals: Charlie Coyle, Taylor Hall, Brad Marchand, Jakub Lauko, Hampus Lindholm, Pavel Zacha- 1.
Assists: Hampus Lindholm- 3.
Points: Hampus Lindholm- 4.
Plus/Minus: Charlie Coyle, Trent Frederic, A.J. Greer- +1
Hits: Brandon Carlo, Connor Clifton- 6.
Blocks: Hampus Lindholm- 3.
Takeaways: Charlie Coyle- 2.
The projected Bruins lines for Monday, January 2, 2023's Winter Classic vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins:
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Jake DeBrusk
Pavel Zacha - David Krejci- David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall - Charlie Coyle - Craig Smith
Nick Foligno - Trent Frederic - A.J. Greer
Hampus Lindholm - Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk - Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort - Connor Clifton
#1: Linus Ullmark
#2: Jeremy Swayman
PP1: Debrusk, Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, Lindholm
PP2: Foligno, Zacha, Hall, McAvoy, Krejci
PK1: Coyle, Debrusk, Clifton, Carlo
PK2: Bergeron, Marchand, Lindholm, Forbort
For The Penguins: Bryan Rust. They call the man "Big Game" Bryan Rust for a reason. It's always a safe choice to pick Rust to perform in any kind of spotlight. The fact that he's being added back to the Penguins' top line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel makes him a likely choice to factor in at Fenway too. Above all, Rust is simply one of the few Pens who are producing right now. He has two assists in the last two games both coming during the tough loss vs. Detroit. Rust also has four points in the last five games overall.
For The Bruins: Linus Ullmark. Ullmark is surprisingly the league’s top goalie of the season. He still only has one loss in regulation and two total losses after three months of play. Any Pens victory is going to necessitate figuring out that puzzle. Which is a feat only a few teams have managed to do. Ullmark boasts a lean 1.90 goals-against average which means he's not giving up much. The Penguins' however did drop five goals on him in their prior meeting back in November, so there's reason to believe they have a chance to replicate that feat.