A good Friday morning to the dear readers.
Starting off, a suggestion to follow @ptrphoto and @412jasmine on Twitter.
Joining the #TribHKY team for our expanded Stanley Cup playoffs coverage is Trib photographer/videographer Jasmine Goldband – and she will be doing some really cool interactive stuff starting at the Penguins rally at noon Friday.
Don’t want to give too much away, but you’ll want to keep checking Twitter for what Jas has coming. This is all about the fans, getting more of yinz involved n’at.
= Finally – finally! – the Stanley Cup playoffs are coming back to Pittsburgh. Indeed, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final is set for Saturday night at Consol Energy Center. Penguins and Bruins and the Prince of Wales Trophy, oh my!
The 4-1-2 is going to party like it’s 1991 this weekend with the Penguins and Bruins meeting in the playoffs for the first time since their back-to-back conference final series in 1991 and 1992, and the Pirates – THE PIRATES – bringing baseball’s second best record to a showdown with those Red Coats from Cincinnati at PNC Park.
Fun stuff for all.
Here, though, we are all about pucks – and before the series prediction, a look at some tidbits, which have been hard to come by during this week-long break between Rounds 2 and 3.
- The Penguins had five days, and three full practices, during a shortened training camp. Since Round 2 ended, this will be a seventh day without a game and a fifth full practice.
- Twenty-three playoff games have gone to OT this postseason, and all but one have ended within the first 20 minutes of extra play.
The Super Bowl Week-like run up to the East final has been brutal for players, fans and media, but it basically ends Friday.
The Bruins will arrive in Pittsburgh in the afternoon after a practice in Boston.
The Penguins are holding another practice at Consol Energy Center.
Any news will be posted here, of course.
= Kevin Gorman, who has something special coming for Saturday, turned a column about the Western PA ties for hot-start Bruins defenseman Torey Krug: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/4111282-74/krug-carey-hockey#axzz2UsWBwZ8x
= A couple of good reads by Josh Yohe.
The first on local stud Brandon Saad’s weird Game 7 experience in Round 2: http://triblive.com/sports/nhl/4105598-74/saad-blackhawks-chicago#axzz2UsWBwZ8x
The second is on this final four of recent Cup champions, and what is on the line for all involved clubs: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/4105584-74/cup-team-penguins#axzz2UsWBwZ8x
= Matt Cooke leads the Penguins notes from Thursday: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/4105593-74/cooke-penguins-boston#axzz2UsWBwZ8x
= News columnist Eric Heyl with a sudsy look at the East final: http://triblive.com/news/editorspicks/4109251-74/adams-howlers-beer#axzz2UsWBwZ8x
And, now, about that prediction:
Penguins in six, though I really want to go five. Really, really.
The reasons the Penguins advance:
1) Simply, this is a terrible matchup for the Bruins, who need the puck for their straight-line, zone-pressure game to work best. The Penguins – partly because of their system, mostly because of their personnel – force opponents to chase the puck. They’ll do that enough to deny the Bruins momentum, and that will contribute to Boston’s struggle to generate offensive chances.
2) Patrice Bergeron is a wonderful two-way center, perhaps the best in the NHL. The Bruins are assuredly thinking of matching him against Sidney Crosby. This makes sense upon initial thought because limiting Crosby – there is no way to stop him – is the best bet for any opponent to usher the Penguins from a seven-game series. However, the Bruins need goals in this series, and they will need Bergeron to either score some or set some up. He cannot do that if he is chasing Crosby all over the ice. Think of Henrik Zetterberg in the 2009 Cup Final. He was not an offensive factor as that series progressed, and it was because his assignment included matching up with Crosby, who had more of an impact than his point total suggested. The same thing should happen in this East Final.
3) The only goalie on this planet with a chance to consistently stand up to the pressure this Penguins squad will create is still playing hockey. However, he is not playing hockey for Boston. Tuukka Rask is a fine netminder. He is not better than Craig Anderson, and the Penguins wrecked him in Round 2. Great clubs break goalies. The Penguins have done that twice already. It is officially a trend.
But, hey, what do I know?