NHL Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Boston Bruins
The Eastern Conference Finals begin Saturday night when the Boston Bruins take the ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center at 8PM ET on NBC Sports Network. Both teams won the Stanley Cup in the last four years.
The Boston Bruins should not be in this game. They collapsed at the end of the season, which lost them the #2 seed to the Montreal Canadiens. Then they almost lost it all in the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Boston had a 3-1 series lead, but allowed the Leafs to force a Game 7. They would have lost that game if they did not explode at literally the last possible minute to force overtime and win it then. They carried the glory to the second round and easily beat the New York Rangers 4-1.
Boston has 12 fierce forwards that can dismantle Pittsburgh’s defense. They would have swept and scored many more goals against New York if it was not for goalie Henrik Lundqvist. These forwards could force Pittsburgh to play defense, which is their weakness. Pittsburgh could hold them off for the first few games, but if the series goes to Game 6 or 7 the forwards could grind them down. Boston has allowed 32.6 shots on goal, but they do not allow quality shots.
Pittsburgh won the season series, but Boston has proven they are not the same team that finished the regular season. Unfortunately for Boston, Pittsburgh is the same team. Pittsburgh scored 13 goals in the last two games against the Ottawa Senators in the second round. They have more weapons than Boston with Sidney Crosby, Geno Malkin, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Pascal Dupuis and Jarome Ignila. Dupuis is tied with Crosby for a league leading seven goals in the playoffs and Neal has five goals and seven points in the last two games.
Tomas Vokoun took over for Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5 against the New York Islanders. Since then he has been consistent for Pittsburgh. He is 6-1 with one shutout, 1.85 goals-against average and .941 save percentage. Boston’s Tuuka Rask declined in the postseason, but is still a major reason why Boston is in the finals. Vokoun is the better goalie because it was the defense that beat New York. If Pittsburgh’s offense can get past Boston’s defense he will have a wild time trying to hold them off.
Prediction: Pittsburgh will win the series in five or six games. The offense is too powerful, even for Boston’s great defense.