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PHT’s top 13 of ’13: Pens go cold in Eastern Conference final

Dec 25, 2013, 7:00 PM EDT

zebrascrosbycharagetty Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins looked unstoppable heading into the 2013 Eastern Conference final; instead, the Boston Bruins swept them in stunning fashion.

However you look at the numbers, the end result was a total offensive collapse for the Pens, who topped the NHL in scoring last season before lighting up the New York Islanders (scoring 25 goals in six games) and Ottawa Senators (22 in five games) in the opening two rounds.

One round later, a team built by GM of the Year Ray Shero — and loaded up with deadline acquisitions Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow — scored a measly two goals in a baffling four-game sweep.

Maybe most stunningly, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin failed to score a point.

Let’s take a game-by-game look at how this shocking series turned out.

Game 1: Boston wins 3-0

The B’s battered Pittsburgh in a game that was so wild, even Crosby, Malkin and the likes of Patrice Bergeron engaged in the nastiness. You know things are bad when the NHL’s 26-year-old poster child blames the officials for things getting out of control.

But boy, did things sure get out of control:

Game 2: Bruins dominate 6-1

Crosby’s assessment of the June 3 loss was succinct and sufficient.

“Tonight was terrible,” Crosby said. “There’s no other way to describe it.”

Rare relief for Crosby, Malkin and other Penguins scorers came with the distraction of a goalie controversy, as people debated whether Marc-Andre Fleury should get his starting job back from Tomas Vokoun.

Game 3: Penguins fall in double-OT thriller

The Penguins made some changes when the series shifted to Boston, including dumping Iginla to the third line. Pittsburgh pushed Boston to a second overtime period, yet a nice bit of work by Jaromir Jagr and a mistake by Kris Letang opened the door for another huge Patrice Bergeron game-winning goal:

After the contest, Letang’s assessment was blunt:

We’re not doing anything good at all.”

This seemed to stand in contrast to the all-out Bruins; their work ethic was highlighted most dramatically by Gregory Campbell during this memorable moment:

Game 4: Bruins end sweep with shutout

Fittingly, Boston ended the series by showing off its staunch defense:

Crosby believed that the Penguins deserved better, yet the sweep opened up a flood of criticism … which the Penguins’ front office mostly ignored.

And, hey, that patience has worked out lately … although many will argue that it won’t matter until the Penguins make it happen in the postseason.

  1. theskinsman - Dec 25, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    Outstanding series.The better team swept!

  2. Shanahammer - Dec 25, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    Of course a headline by James O’brien trolls boston.
    Oh lord it can’t be “boston sweeps” it has to be Pittsburg ‘goes cold’.

    • seanobi - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:37 PM

      Here we are months later and the Penguins still can’t beat the Bruins…(baaahaaahaaaa) Boston is so far in their heads that Pittsburgh cant get out of their own way….

  3. govtminion - Dec 25, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    Still baffled by that series… I’d been looking forward to Pens/B’s in a seven game series for ages, a local friend of mine is a diehard Pens fan so this was heaven for both of us to finally get our two teams against each other… and it was just… nothing. The Pens got two goals in four games. As happy as I was to see Boston move on, it felt wrong- like we got cheated of the series we wanted. Hoping to see it again this season.

    • chanceoffleury - Dec 25, 2013 at 11:37 PM

      If they meet again this year I feel like it will be the showdown for the ages that everyone wanted. The Pens kryptonite seemed to be that they believed their own hype and kept thinking Rask would crack, they’d win a few games, and then they’d have themselves a series. They just kept going through the motions and gave the impression of having zero heart. The Pens emotional game in general seems to be what kills them. They either give the impression they have none of it, or waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much of it and nobody has control over any of them. So I think if they match up again this year the Pens will come in with a lot more emotion and a lot more of something to prove. It will end either really, really great and will be a huge step in the right direction, or it will be a total disaster of 2012 Flyers series proportions. Either way I think it’ll be entertaining as hell, especially compared to last year!

  4. bruininnh1984 - Dec 25, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    i would be surprised if pittsburgh and boston didn’t meet again in the ECF’s. that being said, i was convinced that the series was going 7 with the penguins winning. i was blown away with how the bruins just dominated the penguins. the pen’s got flat out embarrassed in that series in all facets of the game. not to take anything away with what the bruins accomplished winning that series the way they did, but that along with the game 7 comeback against the leafs, not winning the cup makes them interesting footnotes in bruins history as opposed to stepping stones towards a championship.

  5. killerpgh - Dec 25, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    Painful memories….

  6. pitpenguinsrulez - Dec 25, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    What pains me the most is how we lost that series. Had the series gone either 6 or 7 games it wouldn’t burn so bad but getting swept in 4 and how it happened like I said earlier is what burns.

  7. whammy71 - Dec 25, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    The Pens lost cause they have a crappy Captain. Before you get your panties in a bunch…Sid is the best player in the NHL….but being the best player doesn’t make you a great or even good Captain.

    When the Pens are challenged and pushed hard physically….the team and the Captain become unhinged.

    Yes, Sid Captained them to the 2009 Stanley Cup….but he even admitted Billy G. took care of the locker room.

    • chanceoffleury - Dec 26, 2013 at 12:03 AM

      Very poor timing in the season for this comment. The 2009 cup win was 4.5 years ago. Anybody who claims they were the same person they were at 21 as they were at 26 is not very self aware. Your early 20s are one of the more life altering periods of most people’s lives. A lot of growing up usually happens between the ages of 20 and 25. If Crosby was a bad captain the Pens wouldn’t be 8-2 in their last 10 games while playing with an AHL defense and a handful of key forwards in and out constantly changing the lines around. And Crosby was FAR from the only leadership pillar in the lockerroom in that Boston series. Iginla, Morrow, Martin, Orpik, Malkin, Kunitz, Dupuis, Adams. The list goes on. All very seasoned NHL veterans that had every chance that Crosby did to step up and be the difference. Crosby has carried the team many times before, but it should never be demanded of him. It’d be nice to see somebody else step up and be a hero in those situations every once in a while. Boston had Horton and Krug and Krejci, Chicago had Shaw and Bickell, and the Pens had? That’s right. The Pens had the same predictable, albeit usually very offensively gifted, guys working their butts off to be the hero while the rest of the team Crosby and Malkin watched waiting for one of them to step up and do something instead of just doing it themselves. They lost because they were ridiculously predictable and Bylsma got out coached because he refused to adjust until it was already too late. As talented as he is, Crosby can’t be the coach, too.

      • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 8:50 AM

        I completely disagree with whammy71. Sounds like a troll. However, as much as I praise 87 for his incredible talent, ability to show up every night, and give him credit for being able to captain his team to a SC, I do put a lot of blame on him for his and his teammates poor play.

    • titansbro - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      couldn’t agree more, crosby lost all control of his emotions in that first game & even was trying to get chippy with chara (amongst others) until he realized who he was effing with. it led to the meltdown of that whole team in that game (i mean malking fighting bergeron for no reason at all?) & they just seemed deflated the rest of the series.

      • seanobi - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        The problem was Pittsburgh thought they could cheapshot,and.n intimidate the Bruins. But Boston knew that the Penguins were a bunch of cheap shot artists who would not stand up when challenged.Boston knew how the Penguins were going to play and when Pittsburgh pushed the Bruins shoved back and the Penguins folded like ORIGAMIhttp://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/nbcsports/img/post_comment.gif?m=1286321811g!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. pavelfitzgerald - Dec 25, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    Nobodies doubting that Boston is a good team, & Jason is not trolling. It’s quite obvious that it was a shock at how Pittsburgh got sh!t kicked considering they just threw up 47 goals in the previous two series. They looked like an offensive juggernaut & couldn’t do squat against Boston. If anything, it’s a compliment

  9. montrealbbr - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Haha Pittsburgh totally choked in that series. I really was hoping to see Boston get beaten badly and swept but nope. And usually when teams lose to Boston its because the Bruins goon up and get away with cheap shots and the refs swallow the whistles. But I remember Pittsburgh doing most of the hitting and it didnt help them at all.

    • titansbro - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      almost gotta respect these moronic habs fans diehard hatred of the bruins. i mean, even in the face of insurmountable evidence to the contrary, they can never admit that the bruins are just a good, hard hitting team & that the habs would love to be them. in fact, they are now trying to emulate them by signing all these goons, except it just doesn’t work when those goons don’t also have skill.

      • montrealbbr - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        Oh please! Come talk to me when your team starts to come close to the 24 cups that the Canadiens have won! There is no reason why Montreal would envy a team that is below them!

      • theageofquarrel - Dec 26, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        And we are all pretty sure you weren’t alive for 23 of them.

      • titansbro - Dec 27, 2013 at 8:31 AM

        you mean the 24 cups they won when the rules were skewed so that a few teams were able to acquire 99% of the available talent? you mean those cups?

        i honestly could care less about some cups they won aeons ago when rules of the sport did not allow for parity. it’s the same argument from yankees’ fans, but at least they have won something in the last 2 decades.

  10. charastein - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Chara laugh at you. All silly Habs are below the great and mighty Chara.

    Your hatred of the Bruins keeps you warm at night. Keep warm buddy…it’s cold up there in Montreal, especially come playoff time.

    Little comments made by little men.

    Chara officially dubs you “Habsman, Junior.”

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