Monday, June 3, 2013

Eastern Conference Finals (Black and Gold vs. Black and Gold)

This was the match-up that fans and members of the media were hoping for. The Boston Bruins will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins with a ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals on the line. 

This Eastern Conference Finals series features two of the top teams in the league. Although the Bruins have been known over the years for their depth, the 2013 Penguins team has assembled virtually an All-Star team from front to back.

They were incredibly busy at the trade deadline, most notably for acquiring Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames just as it looked like he was set to join the Bruins. The stories will write themselves in the series from a media perspective. Just think about it; Iginla must go through the team he chose not to go to in order to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Plus, Jaromir Jagr skating against his old team for one last hoorah in the spotlight. The sports writers were already salivating over all of this once the second round concluded. 

The key for the Bruins in this series was going to be to try and neutralize Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang and any other player you want to name. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg will have their hands full all series long. 

Besides Tuukka Rask, Milan Lucic had a great series against the New York Rangers. He did not produce the numbers, but he threw his weight around and showcased his speed by driving the puck to the net. Since the Pens have question marks about their goaltender and some of their defensemen, Boston would like to expose that by doing the things that Lucic has done so far in the playoffs.

This is fixing to be a highly skilled, highly physical series and it all started in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

With over a week off in between rounds, it allowed Andrew Ference to make a comeback for game one of this series. He started skating on his own earlier in the week and was recently cleared to play by team officials. Matt Bartkowski became the odd man out despite his solid play on the blue line this postseason. 

Game one went to the Bruins. David Krejci scored two goals while Nathan Horton recorded three points. Rask pitched his first-career postseason shutout by stopping all 29 shots he faced. Besides a scrum that took place at the end of the second period that saw Patrice Bergeron fight Malkin, Matt Cooke was given a game misconduct for hitting Adam McQuaid into the boards from behind. 

The fun stuff has already started in the series and Crosby has been front and center of it all. Did his slick extra curricular activities continue in game two? 

On Monday night, the Bruins and Penguins squared off in game two. Surprisingly, there was no real major scrums in this game. However, the Bruins went on a scoring spree that eventually chased Tomas Vokoun from the Pittsburgh goal. Marc-Andre Fleury entered the game late in the first, but that did not stop the Bruins from scoring.

Boston took this game with a final score of 6-1. Rask continues to be outstanding this postseason. Krejci added another goal to increase his point lead in the NHL while Brad Marchand netted two goals. Even though this might not be worth mentioning, but Jagr recorded two assists in this game. Take it for what it is worth. 

The series now switches to Boston. The Bruins have a 2-0 series lead as they head home for game three on Wednesday night. 

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