Well, that wasn’t pretty … unless you’re Tuukka Rask and his agent, that is.
The Boston Bruins beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 in a game that was skin-tight for two periods before things spiraled out of control in the third period. Boston took a 1-0 series lead in Pittsburgh’s building on Saturday.
- The Penguins have had moments when they lose their cool, with a few meltdowns in their last series against the Philadelphia Flyers being a prominent example. Does head coach Dan Bylsma need to rein everyone in more often? Is it on Sidney Crosby instead? Or is it, dare we ask, a good thing for them to blow off steam?
- Rask got the shutout in Game 1. In related news, he’s a free agent. How much is he worth to Boston?
- Speaking of Bruins free agents, Nathan Horton had a goal and two assists. If he leaves Boston, which team would be wisest to snatch the power forward up?
- Is Mike Milbury right in doubting Tomas Vokoun or does he deserve a longer leash with Marc-Andre Fleury waiting in the wings?
- David Krejci improved his league-leading playoff points total to 19 tonight. Does he deserve more consideration as an elite player?
- This game was wide open at times, yet it didn’t necessarily benefit Pittsburgh – at least on the scoreboard. What kind of adjustments do the Penguins need to make? Is it just a matter of getting a few more bounces?
- Are people underestimating the Bruins once more? Who takes this series in the long run?
The Boston Bruins face a well-documented yet befuddling problem that any team must answer when battling a healthy Pittsburgh Penguins team: how do you shut down one line featuring Sidney Crosby and another with Evgeni Malkin?
While matchups can change multiple times in the series, CSNNE.com reports that the current plan is to deploy the Bruins’ top defensive pairing (Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg) against the Malkin – James Neal – Jarome Iginla trio while they use their best two-way forward (Patrice Bergeron) against his pal Crosby.
The B’s have their own one-two punch of dangerous scoring lines with Bergeron helming one and playoff scoring leader David Krejci running the other, so Pittsburgh has its own problems to solve.
It could all make for a fascinating series. Game 1 kicks off on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference is champing at the bit to get back into the team’s lineup. While he resumed skating with the team this week, he hasn’t officially been cleared to play. That isn’t slowing down his desire to play, however.
Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com hears from Ference about his desire to get in and help the team take on the Penguins.
“Everybody wants to be in the mix, and you can contribute in many different ways. You can be positive and supportive, and there’s more than what happens on the ice,” said Ference. “We’re a room that gets it, and that’s why we’ve had continued success. When you look at the playoffs, it’s more than what you do on the ice.”
When asked if he could play in Game 1, Ference told reporters, as ESPNBoston.com’s Joe McDonald shares, “I have no idea. That’s not my call.” Will Julien go with him? He wasn’t divulging that information.
“That’s the thing I’ll have to deal with when the time comes,” Julien said at today’s press conference. If Ference doesn’t go tonight, chances are good we’ll see him at some point before this series is over with.
Just how are the Boston Bruins going to slow down Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins?
It’s a really good question, and be sure the Bruins have formulated a plan.
Are they going to tell any of us what it is prior to its deployment? Apparently not.
“I’m not talking about what the game plan is. Sorry,” said Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara, as he spoke to reporters Friday, prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final against the Penguins.
The challenge facing the Bruins – the 2011 Stanley Cup champions – is shutting down the highest scoring team in these playoffs.
Two years ago, they kept the Vancouver Canucks in check on their way to the ultimate championship.
The Penguins are averaging 4.27 goals per game in these playoffs, and Crosby is atop at the top of the league in goals and not far off the league lead in points.
Perhaps the key to shutting down the Penguins will be the ability for Bruins’ coach Claude Julien to match lines, especially on the road.
That’s easier said than done.
“Sometimes you have to have trust in your lines that they can do the job and then we have seen that on our team where our fourth line has been paired up against the other team’s top line,” said Julien, “and they know who is out there when they are out there and they make sure that they do the job properly and don’t give them scoring chances.”
A rundown of the Bruins (28-14-6) , who entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed.
6 Stanley Cup titles (1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011)
- David Krejci: 17 points (leads NHL)
- Nathan Horton: +14 (leads NHL)
- Milan Lucic: 55 hits (5th in NHL)
- “HuLK Line” (Horton – Lucic – Krejci): combined 13 goals, 26 assists, 39 points
- Patrice Bergeron: 63.5% faceoffs (leads NHL)
- Torey Krug: 4 goals (1st four NHL goals)
- Johnny Boychuk: 4 goals, 45 blocked shots (leads NHL)
- Zdeno Chara: 29:13 ice time per game (2nd in NHL)
- “Merlot Line” (Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton): 5 goals, 8 assists, 13 points
- Team: 57.5% on faceoffs (leads NHL)
- Team: 474 hits (2nd in NHL)
- Chris Kelly: 0 points, -6 (worst on team)
- Jaromir Jagr: 0 goals on 36 shots
- Tyler Seguin: 1 goal on 45 shots
- 3rd line (Rich Peverley – Kelly – Seguin): combined 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points
- Team: 81.1% on penalty kill, 30-for-37 (8th in NHL)
- Team: 144 giveaways (most in NHL)
Stanley Cup winners with 2011 Bruins (17 players, 4 coaches):
- Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Boychuk, Gregory Campbell, Zdeno Chara (captain), Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg, Tyler Seguin, Shawn Thornton, Claude Julien (head coach), Doug Houda (asst), Doug Jarvis, Geoff Ward (asst), Bob Essensa (asst)
Cup winners with other franchises (4 players, 1 coach):
- Jaromir Jagr (1991, 1992 Penguins), Jay Pandolfo (2000, 2003 Devils), Shawn Thornton (also with 2007 Ducks), Doug Jarvis (1976-79 Canadiens as player; 1999 Stars as asst coach)
Seeking first Cup, have played or coached one+ playoff game this postseason (6):
- Matt Bartkowski, Kaspars Daugaviņš, Dougie Hamilton, Anton Khudobin (back-up goalie), Torey Krug, Wade Redden
Seeking 2013 postseason debut:
- Anton Khudobin (14 regular-season games), Aaron Johnson (10), Carl Soderberg (6), Niklas Svedberg (0)
Most career playoff …
- Games: Jaromir Jagr, 192 (22nd all-time, NHL) … with three more games, will move into 20th
- Goals: Jaromir Jagr, 78 (11th all-time, NHL)
- Points: Jaromir Jagr, 193 (6th all-time, NHL)
Last playoff …
- Hat trick: David Krejci, May 8, 2013 (at Maple Leafs, Game 4, ECQF)
- 4-point game: Zdeno Chara (4 assists), May 8, 2013 (at Maple Leafs, Game 4, ECQF)
- Short-handed goal: Daniel Paille, May 6, 2013 (at Maple Leafs, Game 3, ECQF)
- Fight: Shawn Thornton, May 25, 2013 (Derek Dorsett, vs. Rangers, Game 5, ECSF)
- Shutout: Tim Thomas, April 12, 2012 (vs. Capitals, Game 1, ECQF)
- With three games played, Jaromir Jagr (192) will move into the top-20 in NHL all-time playoff games (194, Paul Coffey) … with one goal, Jagr (78) will move into the NHL top-10 in all-time playoff goals (79, Jean Beliveau) … with four points, Jagr (193) will become fifth on the NHL all-time playoff scoring list (196, Paul Coffey)
- Jaromir Jagr (41) could become the seventh player over the age of 40 to lift the Stanley Cup in the Post-Expansion Era (Raymond Bourque, 2001; Chris Chelios, 2002 & 2008; Igor Larionov, 2002; Dave Andreychuk, 2004; Dominik Hasek, 2008; Mark Recchi, 2011)
- With one goal, David Krejci (25 career goals) will tie Bobby Orr and Robert Schmautz for the 11th most in Bruins franchise history
- With three postseason wins, Tuukka Rask (15) will move past Gilles Gilbert for 5th in goaltending wins in Bruins franchise history
- Wade Redden is one of two active players among the conference finalists’ rosters who have played 1,000+ regular-season games, but never won a Stanley Cup (Jarome Iginla, Penguins, 1,232)
- Matt Bartkowski (22nd game) & Torey Krug (4th game) each scored their 1st career NHL goals in these playoffs … Krug scored four in total on Vezina finalist Henrik Lundqvist (NYR), only the second time a rookie defenseman has scored four or more times in a playoff series (Andy Delmore, 5, Flyers, 2000)
- Longest win streak: 6 (February 17 – March 2)
- Longest winless streak: 4 (April 11 – 20)
Biggest storylines of season & postseason:
- Tuukka Rask proves he’s a suitable #1 goaltender after the abrupt departure of 2-time Vezina Trophy and 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Tim Thomas
- Bruins go the entire season without being shut out for only the fifth time in franchise history … they have not been shut out through the first two playoff rounds
- April 17: Bruins host emotional game vs. Sabres following the tragic Boston Marathon bombings
- May 13: Bruins come back from 4-1 deficit in final 10:42 to survive in overtime in Game 7 vs. Maple Leafs, 5-4
- Frank J. Selke Trophy (Top defensive forward): Patrice Bergeron
Despite missing six games with a concussion, Bergeron had 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists), was a +24 (6th in NHL), won 62.1% of his faceoffs (best in NHL) while taking 35.6% of his team’s faceoffs, and had 23 takeaways.
- Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (Perseverance and dedication to hockey): Adam McQuaid
McQuaid’s season was in serious doubt before it even started when he was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which causes blood clots in the body. He played in 32 games, registering 62 hits and 43 blocked shots.
European League champions (lockout)
- Johnny Boychuk (EC Red Bull Salzburg – Austria), Tuukka Rask (HC Plzen – Czech Republic)