PITTSBURGH – Good morning from the Consol Energy Center, where the Bruins and Penguins will kick off the Eastern Conference Final tonight.
The Bruins are not expected to make any changes up front. On defense, Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk have practiced together for parts of the last two days. Matt Bartkowski and Dennis Seidenberg have served as the No. 2 pairing. It’s possible that Chara and Seidenberg will be split to start the series to account for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
As of Friday, Andrew Ference had not been cleared for game play. We’ll assume that Ference will not play tonight. But the veteran defenseman is close to returning.
Puck drop: 8 p.m.
TV/radio info: NBC (Mike Emrick, Ed Olczyk, Pierre McGuire), 98.5 The Sports Hub (Dave Goucher, Bob Beers)
Records: Bruins 0-0, Penguins 0-0
Projected Penguins lineup:
Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis
Jarome Iginla-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal
Matt Cooke-Brandon Sutter-Tyler Kennedy
Brenden Morrow-Jussi Jokinen-Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik-Paul Martin
Mark Eaton-Kris Letang
Douglas Murray-Matt Niskanen
Healthy scratches: Deryk Engelland, Tanner Glass, Dustin Jeffrey, Beau Bennett, Robert Bortuzzo, Joe Vitale, Simon Despres
Projected Bruins lineup:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jaromir Jagr
Rich Peverley-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Matt Bartkowski-Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Healthy scratches: Dougie Hamilton, Aaron Johnson, Kaspars Daugavins, Carl Soderberg, Jay Pandolfo
Storylines: This will be a homecoming for Matt Bartkowski, who hails from Mount Lebanon, a Pittsburgh suburb. Bartkowski, however, could be on the outs if things go sour. Bartkowski would be the first defenseman out if the Bruins decide Ference is a better option… The Bruins will have to practice discipline throughout the series. Pittsburgh’s power play is too deadly (28.3 percent during the playoffs)… James Neal brings a two-game scoring streak into tonight’s match. Neal scored five goals over the last two games. Chara should see plenty of shifts against Malkin, Neal, and Jarome Iginla… Chris Rooney and Brad Watson will be the referees. Jay Sharrers and Pierre Racicot will be the linesmen.