NHL: Eastern Conference Final update
The Boston Bruins have already taken home ice advantage from the Pittsburgh Penguins, with their big 3-0 victory in game one of the Eastern Conference Final. Now the Bruins look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead on Monday night in Pittsburgh before the series shifts to Boston for game three.
The Bruins, who of course were within minutes of being eliminated in round one by the Toronto Maple Leafs, before surging back from a 4-1 third period deficit, have played fantastic hockey since that scare. The club made quick work of the New York Rangers in five games and has carried over their strong play into the Eastern Conference Final. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask earned the shutout in game one stopping all 29 shots he faced. Center David Krejci added 2 goals and power forward Nathan Horton added the other Bruins tally. While the Bruins don’t have the star power that the Penguins possess up front, the club can roll out four solid lines. On the backend though, they do have that star power with big Zdeno Chara leading the deep defensive corps.
The Penguins have been the odds on favorite out East for most of the season and especially after their very active trade deadline. The addition of forwards Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Jussi Jokinen, along with physical defenseman Douglas Murray really added even more to an already powerful Penguins roster. The Penguins have the two best players in the world of course in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They also possess solid depth throughout the lineup, although goaltending is the big question. While starter Marc-Andre Fleury struggled in their opening round series against the New York Islanders, veteran Tomas Vokoun took over and has put up impressive numbers. The question remains though, if Vokoun can keep it up especially now going up against better competition in the Bruins.
Can the Bruins top two centers, Krejci and Patrice Bergeron continue to shut down Crosby and Malkin? It will be near impossible to actually shut those two down completely, but if Krejci and Bergeron continue to display their strong defensive ability, that will be huge. Especially if they can also keep chipping in on the offensive end, like Krejci did in game one with his two goals.
For the Penguins, they of course need their top guys to pull through offensively and to have Vokoun provide above-average goaltending. The Bruins will initiate a lot of contact and are a very physical team, so the Penguins need to stick to their game plan as well as initiate some contact of their own.