Before game two tonight, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma put out a statement that was strangely prophetic. He had stated that “I think the first team to score a goal is going to win this hockey game tonight.” It even ended up on social media. To the horror and frustration of the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans, it only took twenty eight seconds to determine who would score that goal. Sidney Crosby made a terrible turnover that led to an easy Brad Marchand breakaway that sailed past Tomas Vokoun to give the Bruins a very early 1-0 lead.
”We were playing catch-up right from the start,” Crosby said after the game. ”It’s not a good feeling.”
The defensive breakdowns for Pittsburgh made the night even more painful. Kris Letang failed to clear the puck at the end of a Boston power play. Torey Krug kept it in and took a shot at the crease. Penguins players Vokoun, Letang and Paul Martin just seemed to watch it bounce out, leading to Nathan Horton chipping it in to make it a 2-0 game. This was Krug’s first point in the Eastern Conference Final. At the moment he has one more point than Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Letang, Jerome Iginla and James Neal combined.
David Krejci earned his twentieth post season point with another goal less than two minutes later. The offensive pressure by the Bruins just overwhelmed a Penguins team that wasn’t used to having to play defensive hockey. It also spelled the end of the night for Vokoun. He was replaced in the crease by Marc-Andre Fleury, to the appreciation of the fans at the Consol Energy Center. For a moment, it seemed to give the Penguins life. Brandon Sutter fired an excellent shot past Tuukka Rask to temporarily close the lead to two.
We were wondering about what sort of impact (figurative and literal) Matt Cooke would play in game two. He did get an assist on the Sutter goal, and right after that he started to chirp out Brad Marchand. While Cooke was coming up with color metaphors to describe Marchand’s nose, the Little Ball of Hate out skated Cooke and got the puck past Fleury to make it 4-1. That Marchand scored twenty-five seconds after Sutter just seemed to suck all the life out of the fans. (It does make you wonder how often does a single player score two goals against two goalies in one period though.)
Before the series began, a lot of NHL watchers marveled at the skill set of the individual Penguins players. Tonight, it just looked like the NHL version of a Mighty Ducks movie. NHL caliber players were tripping over each other, colliding into teammates and doing things that should have been ‘bag skated’ out of them in juniors. The frustration and poor defensive play had crawled inside the Penguins’ heads and the shadow of Brad Marchand’s nose loomed large and dark over the Penguins dressing room.
On a side note, you have to give it up for the shameless bias of the NBC network. Pierre McGuire took every opportunity to sing the praises of the Penguins team. He even commented at the beginning of the third period that the Penguins could reproduce a comeback similar to the Bruins 5-4 miracle win in game seven against Toronto. Patrice Bergeron must have had heard him. Just after McGuire made that comment Bergeron fired a short shot past Fleury to make it 5-1. (At this point, the mass exodus of Penguins fan began. Classy Pens fans as always.)
The drubbing still wasn’t over yet. Boston’s consistent forward pressure never gave Bylsma an opportunity to pull Fleury to gain an extra attacker. The Bruins kept on firing on the crease. Chris Kelly rang one of the post, and the Penguins just couldn’t clear the puck. Johnny Boychuk fired another one of his ‘Johnny Rockets’ through the crease to give the Bruins a five goal lead with a little under ninety seconds left to play in the game. The horn mercifully ended the game, and the Penguins were stunned again, this time 6-1 at home.
This may have been the best technical game the Bruins have played this entire season. There were very few mistakes, and the Bruins defensive style of play once again shut down what was considered to be the best offensive team in the NHL. “We pretty much dominated that game,” Tuukka Rask said. “Our defense was really good not giving them too many scoring chances at all.” Rask has stopped fifty five of fifty six shots from the Penguins (.982 save %), and has been a wall for the Bruins.
The Bruins were happy, but do not want to take their foot of the gas or rest on their laurels. “You can’t be satisfied with what you’ve done,” said Milan Lucic after the game. “It’s a big two wins, but two wins is just two wins. There’s still a long way to go and they have more than enough character in that room to fight their way back.” Game three will be back at the TD Garden on Wednesday night. I’m sure we’d all rather hear Jack Edwards offer commentary on NESN at this point.
On a lighter note, the game was so lopsided that even ESPN took a moment away from its love affair with LeBron James to utter this statement on Twitter.
“@espn: No need for Zambonis in Pittsburgh. The Bruins wiped the ice with the Penguins tonight.” BOOM
— Bruins Diehards (@BruinsDiehards) June 4, 2013