BOSTON (CBS) — They may be talented. They may be all stars. They may even be eventual Stanley Cup winners. But they are also cheap shots, whiny, and slithering slime. And oh by the way, The Pittsburgh Penguins also lost game one of the Eastern Conference Final to the Boston Bruins 3-0.
Both teams came flying out of the gate with scoring chances and physical play but it was the Bruins magical playoff god, David Krejci whose slapper from the high slot made its way through defense man Paul Martin before squiggling through the pads of Pens goalie Tomas Vokoun. That would prove to be the game winner as TR, (not TT) Tuukka Rask posted his first playoff shutout and continued to silence critics that are still comparing him to that other goalie. No comparison necessary. Rask was sharp from the drop of the puck.
Pittsburgh tried to take the physical play to the Bruins early as if to say Boston is not the only team that can play that style. The Bruins don’t mind of course as its the way the Bostonians have always played the game. If the Bruins aren’t physical, they most likely will not win. The strategy backfired on Pittsburgh as it was the Pens who were frustrated and although they were able to garner scoring chances, Tuukka was there to stymie them.
It seemed Sidney Crosby was even impressed with the play of Rask who robbed the Pittsburgh Captain a few times with acrobatic saves from point blank range. Rask was asked after the game what Crosby said to him at the end of the second period when frustrations seemed to boil over and Crosby jabbed at him, Rask said he told him “Great job so far”!
After just two periods of this series, it had begun to turn to snarl & nastiness. I would say Boston villian, but he is a National Hockey League villian, Matt Cooke illegally plastered Adam McQuaid from behind against the glass causing the Boston defenseman to spend a few minutes in the “quiet” room and gaining Cooke a 5-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. Yes this is the same Matt Cooke who the Penguins and all the Pittsburgh media said he was a changed man. He had gotten religion and would not be playing like the murderous, evil miscreant he was previously. But we all know a leopard cannot change his spots and that was on full display for the NHL world to see.
The closing of the second period brought more snarl as the teams were moving off the ice. The Crosby & Rask interchange which turned into a shouting match between the two Captains as Chara stepped in to let Sid know not to fool around with his goaltender and two of the Alternate Captains, Patrice Bergeron & Evgeny Malkin dropped the gloves and squared off. To paraphrase the Great Doc Emrick, ‘Everything is happening here.’
I would be remiss to not mention the fact that Bruins forward Brad Marchand had his own cheap shot. Hitting Pens James Neal from behind similar to the Cooke hit, however, it was not as egregious and the refs saw fit to level a two minute penalty to the dismay and anger of the Pittsburgh bench and fans.
But this game was mostly about the Boston Bruins, David Krejci scoring, he leads the league in the playoff, and Tuukka Rask stopping and shutting down the so-called high powered offensive juggernaut power play of the Pens. Making sure Rask could see the shots and clearing rebounds when left in dangers zones and making the most of their opportunities when presented. Krejci also scored the second goal on his own rebound after great board work by Nathan Horton causing a turnover sending a pass to the slot. Horton closed out the scoring and put the game on ice as he was left alone to the right of Vokoun for an easy goal that sent the crowd home disappointed.
It’s only one game, but the underdog Bruins played their best game of the playoffs, maybe even the entire year and if they continue that route, bringing that snarl and defense and opportunistic scoring, the frustration for Pittsburgh will grow and that can only be good things for Boston.