June 7, 2013

Postgame Breakdown: B's bounce Pens, head to Cup finals

By Jesse Connolly

The Bruins captured the Prince of Wales Trophy as Eastern Conference champs Friday night. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 1, Pittsburgh 0

Recap: The opening period wasn't a great one for the Bruins, but against a Pittsburgh team that needed to be desperate, heading into the first intermission scoreless wasn't exactly a bad thing. The B's limited the Pens to just four shots over the final 12:20 of first stanza.

In the second, Pittsburgh held an 11-6 edge in shots, but their chances were primarily of the one-and-done variety, as they failed to sustained pressure. Each team squandered a power-play opportunity in the middle frame.

In the third, Brad Marchand set up Adam McQuaid for a blast from the point that beat Tomas Vokoun, putting Boston up 1-0 with 14:59 left in regulation. The Pens surged in the final minutes but couldn't put anything past Tuukka Rask, who made a glove stop on Jarome Iginla in the final second to put an end to the Pens' season and send the Bruins back to the Cup finals.

Series: Bruins win 4-0

Playoff Records: Bruins 12-4; Pittsburgh 8-7

Key Plays of the Game: With Patrice Bergeron's line going off and David Krejci's coming on, Marchand skated into the offensive zone. He pulled up 15 feet inside the blue line, circled back and found McQuaid skating hard into the zone. McQuaid's slapper caught a piece of Iginla's stick, sending it high to the top left corner of the net where it was out of Vokoun's reach. That was all the offense Boston needed.

Whoa. We're recapping a second play? With under a minute to go, Sidney Crosby was open in the slot and sent it down to around the goal line to Evgeni Malkin. Rask sprawled out in No. 71's direction, leaving the net virtually wide open, as he didn't initially unleash his shot. But Zdeno Chara laid out his 6-foot-9 frame for the game-saving block.

Connolly's Commendations: He didn't have to be amazing in this one, but Rask has to lead things off in this section. The Penguins came into this series averaging 4.27 goals per game. Multiply that by four and they were on pace to score 17 times in four games. Tuukka held them to two. TWO!

Forever an unsung hero, Dennis Seidenberg deserves huge props for his play throughout this series. The German blueliner had a game-high seven blocks in the series clincher.

They've taken a whole lot of flak -- including around these parts -- but Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly deserve some props. They were the top two Bruins forward in shorthanded time on ice in Game 4. Pittsburgh went 0-for-3 on the man advantage Friday night and finished the series 0-for-15. 

Great job by the "Daug Man," Kaspars Daugavins, of coming in and being the Bruins' most dangerous third-liner in this entire series. Gotta keep that guy around next year. And in the short term, if he can play this well in the finals, that'll be huge for the Black and Gold.

Connolly's Critiques: The Bruins just swept the "best team" in the East in the conference finals, outscoring them 12-2 along the way. If you want to complain, you're just a plain ol' grump.

Notes: For Jaromir Jagr, this is his first trip to the Cup finals since 1992. The Bruins have a track record of winning the Cup two years apart. They were champions in 1939 and 1941, and again in 1970 and 1972.  

Final Thoughts: Maybe they weren't all saying that the Penguins would mop the floor with the Bruins, but it was obvious who many expected to represent the East in the Stanley Cup finals. The fact that Boston won this series isn't the craziest thing to ever happen, but to do so in this manner is just about as wild as it gets. Claude Julien and Co. have a lot to be proud of and should be riding a mile-high wave of confidence going forward.

Next: The Bruins will face the winner of the Blackhawks-Kings series. Chicago leads three games to one out West. If they can close out L.A. in Game 5, it's believed that the Cup finals would begin Wednesday, June 12.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com