When I argued that the Boston Bruins would beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games I was berated in social media. It came to no surprise that a majority of that hate came from Pens fans. They suggested I was stupid, ignorant of hockey and suggested a few things that are 1.) anatomically impossible , and 2.) unrepeatable in any respectable social medium. A Pens fan responded with this comment. It was the most well thought out argument of my detractors.
“Your article makes no mention of Pittsburgh playing Boston without the likes of Malkin or Crosby during the regular season (or Iginla, Murray, Joikenin, or Morrow for that matter). The Pens are finally healthy and their play in the last series suggests that. The Isles series was a bad match up simply because “speed kills”. The Pens like to play with speed on the offensive side and frankly the Isles played faster. The Bruins have size but they are a slow, pound it out, defensive minded team. They cannot match the speed of a team like Pitt or the Isles…good series but Pens in 6.”
Well, we’re playing Pittsburgh with Evgeni Malkin and Crosby, and neither of them have shown up on the score board yet. Sure, they are healthy. They’re just not playing like a team. I argued that Pittsburgh had better players, but they couldn’t function as a team. Tonight’s performance showed NHL caliber players skating into each other, tripping each other, making horrible passes and making mistakes that should have been ‘bag skated’ out of them in juniors. Dan Bylsma should apologize to the Pens fan base after that performance.
Pens fans, remember when you touted the skill set of Tomas Vokoun and told Bruins Nation that Tuukka Rask was a ‘mediocre’ goaltender? Well, how is that working out for you? Tuukka Rask has made 55 of 56 saves in two games. ( .982, that’s not ‘mediocre’ that’s ‘Olympic’. ) He has a .935 save percentage for the post season, a sub-two goals against average (1.99)and guess what? He’s making a case to earn himself a Conn Smythe award.
Now let’s take a look at Fleury and Vokoun. Vokoun has seen nothing but disaster in his two games against the Bruins. His goals against average has climbed up to a 2.26, and his save percentage is below .930 (.929%) So after another three goals given up in the first period, Bylsma decides it’s time to call up Fleury. The crowd was all excited, until Marchand scored his second goal of the night. Then the Bruins got another two past him in the course of the game. Volkoun’s numbers are heading towards ‘mediocre’, and Fleury’s (3.52 goals against, .883 save percentage) are pathetic. So, Pens fans, does Rask still suck?
The Penguins have still not found a way to stop David Krejci. Krejci still leads the NHL with twenty points in the post season, and he continues to score with his line mates, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. The Crosby line( in all its incarnations) has been shut down this series while that Krejci line has put up ten points in two games. Sidney Crosby is a -4. The “best player in the world” is a -4. The player that was supposed to dominate and sweep the Bruins is a -4. (By comparison, Krejci and Lucic are a +12, and Horton is a +19.)
Finally, let’s thank Matt Cooke. If Matt Cooke wasn’t trying to be such a militant instigator with Marchand he never would have given the Little Ball of Hate the opportunity to blow right by him and make the score 4-1. Marchand’s “What do you got?” wasn’t an insult. It was a statement. Pens fans figured someone would put him through the boards. Nope, we chose the high road and just bloody outplayed you. Game three is on Wednesday, and the Bruins will continue to play their brand of hockey, and if the Penguins keep playing this way, the number one seed could be swept from the Conference Finals.