A lot can be said about the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have a history almost as noble and storied as our own. Over the last few decades, they’ve been a thorn in the side of the Bear. As everyone knows, the Penguins and the Bruins will meet in the Eastern Conference Final. This will be their first postseason meeting since 1992. (Pittsburgh swept Boston on the way to winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup. This year, the Penguins swept the regular season series with the Bruins. (All three games were decided by one goal.)
To all you Pittsburgh fans, that was twenty one years ago. Both teams’ hockey systems have evolved, and a lot of time has passed.
What will it come down to for the Bruins to make their second trip to the Stanley Cup in three years?
The Bruins banished that inconsistent play style in Game seven against Toronto. We’ve seen a team that plays hard and is committed to success on the ice. A lot of people had the Rangers beating the Bruins, many had the Black and Gold as serious underdogs. The Bruins took that mantle of underdog, and wore it like a badge of honor. They outplayed the Rangers in the first three games of the series, and only by a series of misfortunes got themselves to Game five. (The exact amount of games it took the Penguins to vanquish a injury-laden, and deeply battered Ottawa Senators team.)
Milan Lucic called the Pittsburgh Penguins the “Miami Heat of the NHL”. The Penguins, like the Heat have a lot of star power on their squads. They both have the tendency to waste their talent and poorly timed moments. (It took Tomas Vokoun to save the Penguins from being taken out by the New York Islanders in round one.) In the end, I’m not entirely sure if Lucic was praising the Pens, or giving them a thoughtful jab for their previous failings.
Saturday is game one, and we both know the teams will play to their stengths. Pittsburgh will come flying out on the ice throwing everything they can on net. The Bruins had defensive breakdowns that cost them those games in the regular season. That inconsistency isn’t there now. The Pittsburgh team will have to push hard to get past Tuukka Rask. They will have to hope that Vokoun will have that same skill set when the Bruins exploit the Pens’ weaker blue line.
The Bruins will play like bears. Tough defense. Solid pinching in the neutral and defensive zones. Let’s be honest, here. The Penguins as individuals, are slightly better players than the Bruins. They lack the team cohesion that we have. The Krejci line has been together for three years. The Bergeron line – three years.(It’s safe to say we’ll see Jagr back on the third and Seguin back with Marchand and Bergeron.) The Merlot Men, who seem to almost function as a hive mind at times – three years.
The Penguins have the better players. We have the better team. (We’ve certainly got the better coach, but we can leave that for a discussion at a later date.) In the end, it will be passion and perseverance that beat out shots and skill.
My prediction: Boston Bruins will defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.