Bergeron, Crosby ready for tough matchup

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Bergeron, Crosby ready for tough matchup

PITTSBURGH The Bruins will get their first look at Sidney Crosby and the Penguins this season tonight at CONSOL Energy Center, and its a matchup both Crosby and buddy Patrice Bergeron have been looking forward to.

Crosby and Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury 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.

Im very happy for him that hes 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 hes a great guy and he deserves to be feeling 100 percent.

Crosby has 12 points in seven games since his return, and hell be counted on for additional support now that puck-moving defenseman Kris Letang has been knocked out indefinitely with a concussion stemming from the Max Pacioretty blindside hit.

The two top teams, you always get up for these games," Crosby said. "You look at it as more of a test. Obviously theyre Stanley Cup champions, and you look for those matchups and those games within the game.

Theyre pretty defensive. They play a team game. Their discipline and confidence in the way they play stands out. When you have success winning previously, you have confidence that youre going to win with that way again. Any good or successful team is going to have that.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma sees a team in the Bruins that are playing with a little more offensive bent than they were previously known for, but the Bs have been top five in offensive production over the last two years. So its not a new development rather than everyone around the league stepping up and taking notice that the Bruins can feature a bruising, overpowering puck possession game to go along with sound defense and elite goaltending.

Clearly their record stands for itself. They have not lost a regulation game in their last (14). Theyve been playing very good hockey and what Ive seen from them in the last 10 games is maybe the best hockey in the league, said Bylsma. They are very sound structurally and getting great efforts throughout their lineup. Theyre a good opponent. Im expecting a very physical game. They spend an awful lot of time in the offensive zone and theyre very good in that regard. They really grind teams down in the offensive zone.

Those grinding, physical qualities are things both the Bs and the Penguins have in common, and its that kind of even matchup that will force marquee guys like Crosby and Bergeron to step up tonight on the big stage.

Morning Skate: Former PC coach Army on Avs' rough year

Morning Skate: Former PC coach Army on Avs' rough year

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars being released today. Amazing that the power and influence of the best movie franchise in cinematic history are just as strong today as it was four decades ago. I still remember my first time seeing it as a very little kid with my parents at the dearly departed Starlight Drive-In in North Reading.

*Good guy and recently fired Colorado Avalanche assistant coach Tim Army talks about a rough past season with the Avs, and some of the difficulties they faced in a truly terrible season. The former Providence College head coach and good hockey man shouldn’t have much trouble finding his next gig.

*A great move by the Arizona Coyotes, who have hired former Bruins forward Craig Cunningham as a pro scout after his awful medical situation last season that resulted in his leg getting amputated. Cunningham is a hard worker and a hockey lifer, and that’s exactly the kind of traits that the best scouts have in huge amounts.

*The New Jersey Devils have fired a number of employees after a rough season, including a groundbreaking radio analyst.

*With the ultra-competitive demand for an edge in NHL player development, teams are beginning to look to Europe for more and more diamonds in the rough. The Bruins tried that with Joonas Kemppainen, but it didn’t work out so well.

*One of the real big advantages of the Nashville Predators getting to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time is a national spotlight getting flashed on PK Subban, who shows off his personality in a rare ESPN interview of a hockey player featured on the network's magazine show.

*Ryan Johansen isn’t done talking smack to Ryan Kesler after the Predators prevailed over the Ducks, and it’s some delicious playoff hatred.

*Is the NHL ready to draft another goaltender with the last name DiPietro in the first round? Inquiring minds want to know, but I’d recommend the New York Islanders take a pass just in the name of avoiding a repeat of some bad history for them.

*Taylor Hall sounds pretty bitter about the whole “Edmonton Oilers getting into the playoff without him” thing, doesn’t he?

*For something completely different: As mentioned above, it’s a milestone birthday for the Star Wars franchise hitting 40 years old today. Boy, this Boston Globe movie review was right on the money back in 1977.