Eight months after Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke(notes) delivered a brutal blindside hit on Marc Savard(notes), the Boston Bruins’ top center is still dealing with the effects of a concussion.
Now, Boston also must move on without Savard’s replacement.
While Savard briefly returned during the playoffs, he’s out again after suffering a setback this summer stemming from the March 7 hit by Cooke, who was not suspended.
Krejci has performed well as Boston’s first-line center, playing alongside Nathan Horton(notes) and Milan Lucic(notes) to form a trio that has combined for 13 goals and 18 assists in 11 games. However, Krejci also is out indefinitely with a moderate concussion from a hit by St. Louis’ T.J. Oshie(notes) during the Bruins’ 2-1 shootout loss Saturday.
“We’ve been through it before. We’ve dealt with those situations before and we’ll continue to deal with them,” coach Claude Julien said. “This is a team game, and everybody’s got to buckle down and compensate for that loss, and I think we’re capable of doing it.”
Patrice Bergeron(notes), who missed most of the 2007-08 season with a severe concussion, will likely move between Horton and Lucic, while Blake Wheeler(notes) moves from wing to center and Daniel Paille(notes) returns to the lineup after 10 games as a healthy scratch.
It’s unclear who the Bruins (7-3-1) will have in net. Tim Thomas(notes) is 7-0-0 with a 1.05 goals-against average, but he was pulled after allowing three goals in two periods of Boston’s 5-3 loss to Washington on Friday.
“An unlucky start for him thus far,” Lucic said of Rask, who led the NHL with a 1.97 GAA last season. “But he was great (Saturday) and kept us in the game.”
The Penguins (7-7-1) also have a goalie controversy, which was exacerbated when Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) allowed two goals in seven minutes at Phoenix on Saturday. Brent Johnson(notes) came in to stop 22 of 23 shots and all three shootout attempts as the Penguins won 4-3.
Johnson improved to 6-1-1 with a 1.63 GAA. Fleury has posted a 3.55 GAA while going 1-6-0, but he may get the start Wednesday after Johnson missed Monday’s practice with an illness.
“Some of it’s going to have to be who’s going to get us going and play a good game for us,” coach Dan Bylsma said, “and still keeping in mind that we want to get the appropriate amount of work for Marc to get to a rhythm and get his game.”
The win over the Coyotes was an important one for Pittsburgh, which had dropped five of six. Sidney Crosby(notes) scored his team-high ninth goal and added an assist for his 19th point, but rookie Mark Letestu(notes) was the hero after scoring the lone shootout goal.
Crosby and Letestu each assisted on Chris Kunitz’s(notes) game-tying power-play goal. Pittsburgh had been 1 for 30 on the power play in its previous seven games, and the Bruins have the NHL’s best penalty kill (92.9 percent).
Boston is making its first trip to the Consol Energy Center, where the Penguins are 2-4-0, after losing its final three visits to Pittsburgh’s former home at Mellon Arena.
Crosby has four goals and 11 assists in eight career home games against Boston.