There is no pretext, no shrugging off the obvious.
The Penguins, plain and simply, have something to prove tonight at Consol Energy Center when they meet Boston for the first time since the Bruins swept them in four games in the Eastern Conference final in the spring.
"We didn't expect to get beat like that, so we'll play with a little chip on our shoulder for sure," winger Pascal Dupuis said Tuesday after practice.
The Penguins were the highest-scoring team in the NHL last season, averaging 3.38 goals a game. They boasted offensive talents such as past scoring champions Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and, through trades had strengthened the roster late in the season, making them a favorite in many quarters to win the Stanley Cup.
When all was done against the Bruins, though, the Penguins had scored just two goals, with Crosby and Malkin combining for zero points.
"I certainly didn't want to look ahead in any way, shape or form the past week, but we knew we were coming home [from a two-game trip] to play Boston, and it's the first time we're playing them again," coach Dan Bylsma said. "Absolutely, it's a rivalry game."
The teams are among the best in the Eastern Conference through the first four weeks of this season. The Penguins have accumulated 16 points in 12 games; the Bruins, 14 points in 10 games.
There is one player who can see both sides of things before the game. Winger Jarome Iginla, a future Hall of Famer, was one of the Penguins' late-season additions. He then jumped to Boston as a free agent over the summer.
"It's a rivalry that it's cool to be a part of," Iginla said after the Bruins practiced at Consol Energy Center, shortly after the Penguins. "I imagine it's only going to grow, especially the way the playoffs went last year. That animosity between the teams will just get more and more."
The league and its television partners are counting on it. The game has been picked for a regular Wednesday "Rivalry Night" feature on NBC Sports Network.
In fact, the Penguins are part of that weekly game two more times in the next three weeks -- Nov. 13 against Philadelphia and Nov. 20 at Washington.
The Flyers and Capitals have been more recognized rivals of the Penguins in recent years. But, with Boston, there are the relatively fresh emotions from that playoff series the first week of June.
"Just because of the history of a playoff series, that usually means that the teams do have an extra jump," Boston defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara said.
"We should be ready for that. We should expect that."
Chara, though, was reluctant to recount the series and the way the Bruins shut down the Penguins.
Crosby admitted that the Penguins won't be able to escape the memory of that series tonight.
"You try to treat it like another game, but there should be a little extra intensity because of the fact that we did play them in the playoffs," he said.
It remains to be seen whether lingering emotions might flare.
Although it went unnoticed outside of the teams at the time, a video surfaced after the series that showed Chara, with a gloved fist, punching Crosby in his surgically repaired broken jaw during Game 1. There was no penalty, and Crosby was not injured.
Chara wasn't apologizing nearly five months later.
"It's just a battle. We all battle," he said.
"Sid is a player that battles hard and plays hard. I do the same. That's the way it goes in the playoffs. You have battles. You have different conflicts. That's just because everybody wants to win. I want to win for my team; he wants to win for his team."
Crosby isn't expecting his teammates to retaliate tonight.
"Did they come out [and retaliate] after Game 1?" Crosby asked.
"It's in the past. Did I like what he did? No, but it's the playoffs, and guys do different things in the playoffs."
Boston winger Milan Lucic said Crosby's motivation already is apparent -- he has racked up 20 points and led the NHL in scoring before Tuesday.
"Sid's showing that he's still the best player the world by having the start that he's had," Lucic said.
Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.