It's Not Time To Panic
If I was a Boston Bruins fan, I wouldn’t feel very confident after Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That’s a strange statement to make, considering it was, well, a 3-0 win. Not only did they prevent the highest scoring offense in the playoffs since the early 1990s, but they also posted three goals of their own.
But the Penguins weren’t pushovers, as one might expect given the box score. In fact, they controlled much of the game.
If it wasn’t for the fantastic play of Bruins goalie Tuuka Rask, the Penguins might have scored three or four goals through he first two periods, completely changing the dynamic of the game.
I know, I know, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts…” Blah Blah Blah.
The fact is, the Penguins played well enough to win, and the Bruins didn’t really show anything too intimidating, aside from their faceoff prowess.
Make no mistake, the Bruins will learn from their mistakes in Game One and will be more focused on stifling the Penguins’ offensive attack. But the Penguins, for the most part, need to just keep on keepin’ on.
It’s really that simple.
In fact, I wouldn’t make a single lineup change for Game Two tonight in Pittsburgh.
Tomas Vokoun may have let in three goals, but he’s hardly to blame for no fewer than two of them. Mark Eaton had a questionable game, but his skills lend themselves perfectly to a hard-working, physical opponent like Boston. And Joe Vitale’s faceoff skills might be needed, but his lack of penalty killing experience make substituting him for Brandon Sutter a difficult call.
One thing I would do, however, if I was coach Dan Bylsma would be to keep the team calm.
At the end of the second period, the shenanigans picked up and resulted in Sidney Crosby verbally sparring with Zdeno Chara, Evgeni Malkin physically sparring with Patrice Bergeron, and Mike Millbury vomiting his typical drivel.
Listen, the Penguins did get out of hand at the end of the second. They would have been better served to have Malkin on the ice rather than the penalty box for the first five minutes of the third period. But they stepped in and showed the Bruins that they’re not just the finesse team some might consider them to be.
They won’t back down from anyone, and in many cases they’ll initiate.
This isn’t a flashback to the opening round loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last spring, when the Penguins collectively lost their cool and succumbed to the Flyers’ antagonizing ways.
This was a case of several frustrated players sending a message, rallying the troops. But the troops didn’t necessarily need rallied, as the team was playing just fine to that point, despite being blanked.
So, tonight, for Game Two, the best thing the Penguins can do is play their game. Do exactly as they did through two periods Saturday.
Hopefully this time a few of those pucks will sneak past Rask, forcing the Bruins to play catch-up, a game they’re far from comfortable with.