Eastern Conference Finals: Game 1 Preview


March 17, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) talk during a timeout during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After a prolonged wait, the Eastern Conference Finals are finally here.

The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins have had ample time to prepare for each other. They both defeated their previous opponent in five games, which sets up this matchup between the two best teams in the Eastern Conference.

The B’s will be put to the test on defense. Just like the Bruins, the Penguins have depth, they have guys on every line that are very dangerous and can give your defense nightmares. In the playoffs, they are averaging 4.27 goals per game and also have the most power play goals with 13. There is no question that this is the best offense in the league and the Bruins will need to slow them down if they want any chance of winning this series.

One of the most hyped up storylines the past few days has been Andrew Ference. He has been nursing an undisclosed injury since the first round matchup against Toronto. He rejoined the team at practice this week but has yet to be cleared to play by team doctors. After practice Friday, Ference said, “The only thing I can do is skate and do what I have to do to make myself ready. But at a certain point, it’s in other people’s hands as well.” When, and if Ference is ready to go, Coach Claude Julien will have a difficult decision on whom to sit.

It comes down to one player for Boston, and that is goaltender, Tuukka Rask. During the playoffs, he has played in every game, recording a save percentage of .928 and a goals against average of 2.22. Tuukka will have to play out of his mind if the Bruins want to take down the Penguins.

This is the first time that Boston has not had home ice advantage all playoffs. Game 1 is at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Game time is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. and will be televised on NBC