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Playoffs Tonight: Bruins look to battle Penguins to edge

Jun 5, 2013, 8:12 AM EDT

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 03: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins scores a goal on Tomas Vokoun #92 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first period during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Consol Energy Center on June 3, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings avoided falling behind 3-0 in the Western Conference finals. Now the Pittsburgh Penguins will try to do the same…

Boston Bruins host Pittsburgh Penguins (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)
Boston leads 2-0

With all the focus on what’s gone wrong for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Boston Bruins are perhaps not getting enough credit for their accomplishments. They’ve taken one of the most loaded teams in recent memory and made them look silly.

If Pittsburgh’s strategy was to overwhelm the Bruins offensively, so far it’s failed spectacularly. Boston’s defense has risen to the task and Tuukka Rask has been nearly flawless so far.

Still, Boston hasn’t won this series yet and Bruins coach Claude Julien understands that this would be a terrible time for his squad to feel content.

“Our team is really playing good hockey right now, without a doubt the best we’ve had this year, and that has to continue to beat these guys,” Julien said, according to the Ottawa Sun. “We were in the same position as Pittsburgh a few years ago and we worked our way back.

“I think we understand the situation here. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves and understand these next games are crucial for us.”

“These next games will be a lot tougher I’m sure,” Boston’s Shawn Thornton added. “These guys are a very dangerous team.”

For Pittsburgh, there are any number of adjustments they might make, but perhaps the most useful ones would be mental. After suffering a 6-1 loss on Monday, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma talked about the Penguins’ need to adjust their attitude. Although he didn’t go into detail, that likely speaks to competitiveness and patience, but also not getting scared or frustrated.

“Maybe after that first game, we played Game 2 scared to lose instead of trying to win it,” Pittsburgh forward Brenden Morrow told the McKeesport Daily News. “We were slow to pucks all night, and that’s why. We were doing too much thinking. We can’t do that again.”

We’ll see if the Penguins can enter this game with renewed focus or if the Bruins can push their backs against the wall.

  1. pens87 - Jun 5, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    Goes without saying this is a must win for the Penguins. This team definitely has the talent to bring the series back to Pitt in a tie, but if they drop tonight then I think the Bruins may take it in 4. I hope they treat every game going forward as if it was game 7.

    • pastabelly - Jun 5, 2013 at 9:03 AM

      I don’t believe the Penguins are more talented than the Bruins. They are a better offensive team. The Bruins have better goaltending and are a better defensive team. Looking forward to going the Garden tonight and seeing more of the same from the Bs.

      • dropthepuckeh - Jun 5, 2013 at 10:21 AM

        Likewise, it’s going to be insane in there. With the eight pm start it will be all the rowdier too….

      • chanceoffleury1 - Jun 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        It subjunctive upon how one defines “better”. The Pens have a higher ceiling on their play, but the defining problem is they also have a deeper floor. Both goalies have “out-goaltended” Anderson and Lundqvist a few times this year (and Rask). They’ve “out-defensed” the Bruins and Rangers a handful of times over the past 2 years. I guarantee you no other team has won more 5/6/7+ goal games in the past 5 years. The problem is that they almost never match all these things up on the same night and are wildly inconsistent. Many times you aren’t sure which of the 3 will show up. Maybe none of them will. Then you’re just watching game 2 of the 2013 eastern conference finals. Where the Penguins play can range from a scale of 1 (Monday night) all the way up to a 10 (where all those things mentioned above are firing on all cylinders), the Bruins play is far more consistent and rarely a surprise. Their play doesn’t have as high a ceiling, but will always range on a scale from 4 to 8. It’s not always flashy but it more often then not gets the job done swiftly and cleanly. Theres no mess and no breakdowns to deal with. The Penguins are built to win individual games but the Bruins are built to win a championship. I think it’s difficult to dub either the Pens or Bruins as “better” because they run such different systems and don’t pride themselves on similar things.

        That’s not to say I think the Pens can’t come back from this. I think if they put themselves in the right mindset they can drag this out all the way to a Game 7 in Pittsburgh. Nobody ever won a Cup without a little adversity and few roadblocks. But actually showing up to play like they are in the conference finals and not some beer league tournament will be a good first step for them.

  2. bakedbees - Jun 5, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    the Bees will be in Game 7 mode just like every game since Game 7 versus the Leafs…count on it!!!

  3. eaglesbest - Jun 5, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    The B’s need this game tonight. Just as its a must win for the Pens it a must win for the Bruins. A Pens win could change momentum in this series. A Bruins win could crush the Pens just like it did the Rangers.

    • 8man - Jun 5, 2013 at 10:31 AM

      I agree. Mostly because a loss at home after those two capable road wins would let some air out of the balloon and give the Pens a huge lift. The Pens are a great team. They won’t need much to put some steam in their step.

      A win would clearly set the table for the Bs. Not that a 3-0 lead can’t be overcome, we’ve seen it happen before. But it’s a rarity and that Bs team was beset by a great deal of adversity.

      A win for the Pens and it’s a series. And a definite chance for them to go back to Pitt knotted at 2.

    • miketoasty - Jun 5, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      Well not that this is any surprise to anyone, but a win tonight and the Pens are done, you need to show some sign of life to come back 3 – 0 in a series and if the Pens lose by anything more than 1 or 2 goals the series will be done in 4 or 5. Coming straight from a Pens fan.

  4. dropthepuckeh - Jun 5, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    I agree with Ryan’s statement here that maybe the Bruins aren’t getting enough credit. Every article you read and every quote is about how the Penguins gave the game(s) away and they aren’t stepping up blah blah. A huge part of that is because the Bruins are playing excellent team defense, great PK and intense forechecking. They are also capitalizing on the Penguins errors while the Penguins haven’t been able to do the same. That Horton to Lucic to Krejci goal on Monday night was as pretty a play as any this post season. Surely that wasn’t a “gift” from the Penguins.

    The Bruins are playing with confidence and have repeatedly demonstrated they are not intimidated by any team. They clearly respect Pitt but they earned those first two victories. Those mistakes were forced by the Bruins, not gifted.

    • hockey412 - Jun 5, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      I think the only people that didn’t give the Bruins ‘credit’ are in Vegas. But I think you give too much credit for forced turnovers and other mistakes. They’ve played brilliantly, but they’ve also played brilliant, SIMPLE, hockey. The way it’s supposed to be played. On the defensive end, they have the Pens chasing the puck – that’s very good, and it’s pulling the Pens D out of position. I wouldn’t call those “mistakes” though – the mistakes are coming on the offensive end for the Pens and to a lesser degree right at center ice.

      I’ve never seen so many unforced errors. Those errors are coming because there is an overriding tendency on the Pens team to try and make the perfect play. If the Pens play simple, easy play hockey – take what’s given and then take your best shot – this will be a series. Boston is not taking EVERYTHING away…that’s impossible – and I don’t think even you would give any team that much credit (I hope not, anyway).

      Anyway – bottom line, Bruins are playing amazing, lights out hockey. They haven’t made too many mistakes. But I wouldn’t say they are forcing the Pens into playing the way they are. The Pens are doing that all on their own. The B’s have just been there to take advantage of it.

      • johnnyd76 - Jun 5, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        Agreed –

        PENS are as much their own enemy as the Bruins are. If they can correct the major defensive mistakes and skate/pass with more speed in the offensive zone, they may just have a chance.

        The biggest offensive problem with the PENS is they have very few uncontested shots to the net. To the Bruins credit, their sticks have been very active in deflecting/blocking shots and passes. If the PENS skate/pass more quickly and accurately they would gain a higher number of “quality” shots – and truly pressure Rask. THe PENS play in front of the Bruins net has also been abysmal – very few second shots on rebounds.

        Finally, PENS need to worry more about playing hockey than winning the “Hit” battle. Physical is good but you need to score first, then pound your opponent with physical and defensive play.

      • pepper2011 - Jun 5, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        That’s what was said about them in 2011 and again this year. It’s what they do. They are so structured and disciplined that it looks like they are playing simple, but they really are not, it’s actually kind of a complicated system, and you have to depend on your teammates to do the be on the same page or it won’t work. You can’t make the simple play against the Bruins; they force you to make the perfect play. I know what you are saying, but the time and space just aren’t there. I know a lot of teams do it, but they use the system in Providence – it’s why their young D have been able to step into the lineup and not kill them, and that goes back a couple years to Boychuck, Mcquaid and even Hunwick.

      • pepper2011 - Jun 5, 2013 at 12:31 PM

        I just think it’s time to give the Bruins and Claude Julien some credit. Teams just don’t decide to play a different way against you for 5 years; they make you. Every time they do this; the Canucks, Habs, Pens, Flyers, Bolts,and Sabres fans all think there team is not playing the way they “normally” do. I say they are; it just doesn’t work against the B’s on a consistent basis. Teams get frustrated and it looks even worse. Don’t be mistaken the Bruins ARE doing this to the Penguins.

        2012-13 – 3rd GA/G (tied 4th +22 goal differential)
        2011-12 – 6th GA/G (1st +67 goal differential)
        2010-11 – 2nd GA/G (2nd +51 goal differential)
        2009-10 – 2nd GA/G (13th +6 goal differential)
        2008-09- 1st GA/G (1st +78 goal differential)

      • hockey412 - Jun 5, 2013 at 2:47 PM

        Don’t misunderstand – from what you are saying I do agree that this accounts for the Pens having 1 goal in two games, and I honestly think the Pens have the ability to break through it. They’ve faced the team before, and even though it’s not the same in the playoffs, it is the same SYSTEM. They didn’t change the system, but have been playing it better. Also I’d point out that the B’s are playing their own system better than they played it in the first two series. So while I give credit to the system and the players for the defensive play, I’m going to let the Pens share the blame for the 9 goals scored against. They’ve given that puck up at some really dumb times. One look at Horton’s last goal – if you say that goal was because of the Bruin’s system, I’m officially disagreeing with you.

    • dropthepuckeh - Jun 5, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      Right, there you go again. It isn’t the Bruins creating the problems, its the Penguins not executing. Isn’t it odd that all these teams fail to execute against the Bruins? Maybe the variable you should be looking at is the Bruins system. They don’t allow the Penguins to play their game.

      Additionally the Bruins offense is better than the Penguins. 9-1 in goals so far. Scary stuff. When do we see MAF tonight? I mentioned goalie controversy on Monday and hockey-with-draw called me ignorant. Guess I was right eh?

  5. 8man - Jun 5, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    My expectation is that the Pens will play far better than they did in Pittsburgh. They’ve had plenty of time to look at video and they are good enough to rebound nicely. The were the top seed and they’ve won two playoff series already. They know how to do this.

    The big question is goal keeper. I think both Vokoun and Fleury are talented and playoff tested. And with that Pens offense, they don’t have to be perfect. The question is whether or not the Pens believe in either guy and whether either guy still really believes in himself.

  6. jbniner - Jun 5, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    I’ve seen some concerns over the past day or so about the B’s not getting enough credit from the media. I’m perfectly fine with that…let the analysis stay focused on Pitt. and what they’re doing “wrong”. Keep the pressure and attention firmly on the Pens while the B’s fly under the radar. Ultimately, validation comes in form of wins, not articles that mean very little.

  7. capsrockva - Jun 5, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Go Bruins for this round only. Then I’m rooting for whoever comes out of the west

  8. matthews4 - Jun 5, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    I have to say as a B’s fan I am nervous because of how the national media basically are all picking the Pen’s tonight. I understand the Pens will play much better and are desperate, but doesn’t the B’s having the last change to expose the match-up problems the Pens have had to this point factor in a little? Why are the Pen’s the only one’s who can adjust the B’s could be much better on the PP. I would actually put red hot Johnny Rocket on and take Sides off. He has been a beast this playoffs, and his shot is a bomb.

    • stakex - Jun 5, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      The national media all picked the Pens last game as well, and we all know how that worked out.

  9. apkyletexas - Jun 5, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Savard’s revenge. As long as the Pens continue trotting out Cooke, they deserve to get pounded like this. Even as a Pens fan, I can see the karma at work here, and the Pens deserve every bit of it for continuing to retain Cooke’s services.

  10. tampaskinsfan - Jun 5, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Marchand said it best after game one “Pitt has the best players in the world but we’re playing as a team” that mentality wins out every time.

  11. stakex - Jun 5, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    When I look at this Pens team, much like last year, I see a near carbon copy of the Capitals from a few years ago. They have an incredably dangerous offense, but as a whole are a flawed team. This year that were handed two easy rounds against the Islanders, and Ottawa. The Islanders put up a fight thanks to Fleury, but they aren’t ready for prime time yet… and Ottawa was in free fall for most of the end of the season.

    Once the Pens ran into a solid team with a good defense and shut down goaltender… they have looked awful. The all offense, no defense (or goaltending) approach works against weaker teams with iffy backend play. However, it struggles to work against really good defense and goaltending. On top of that Boston has enough offensive talent to exploit the weak Pens defense, and expose just how bad their goalie tandem really is. The Pens get frustrated, they push harder but can’t break the Boston defense, and Boston counters against a scrambling defense and the puck ends up in the net. Been the story all series and there is little reason to expect that to change.

    If I was making the decisions in Pit, I would think about a limited re-building of the team this offseason should they fail to win this series. The offense only style of hockey they play isn’t capable of winning the Cup in this day and age. Sure it can be entertaining, and help pile up points during the season… but its difficult to beat top flight teams with that style.

  12. phillyphanatic77 - Jun 5, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    We’ve seen over and over, through the years, that heart and determination beats pure skill in the playoffs… and the Bruins are clearly the more determined team right now. Plus they are the only team in the East that can match the Pens in rolling 4 talented lines. And they clearly have the better defense and goaltending. I think the Pens (along w their fans) greatly overestimated how their recent regular season success against Boston would translate to the playoffs. Especially with the Bruins hitting their stride in round two.

    I’ve said from the start of the playoffs that Boston is the one team that can prevent the Pens from advancing to the finals, and I stick by that. However, with all that said, I think Pittsburgh takes game 3. I hope I’m wrong but it would be an unbelievable feat to keep that offense contained for 3 straight games. 4-3 Pens win tonight.

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