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BOSTON (CBS) — There are hundreds upon hundreds of professional hockey broadcasters, analysts, former players and pundits in North America, and there are thousands of writers, bloggers, tweeters and gamblers. They’ve all been asked to write their game previews and forecast the future based on their years of expertise, but I guarantee not one of them predicted what took place in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The heavily favored Penguins, already down a game in the series, fell behind 28 seconds into the game, and they never recovered. They briefly fought back but eventually just folded up shop and essentially called it quits after 20 minutes of hockey in a Stanley Cup playoff game.
Now, the Bruins head home with a 2-0 series lead, with the Penguins needing to win four of the next five games in order to stay alive.
At some point, we should all probably stop being surprised by what happens in these games. But we should definitely stop listening to anyone’s predictions.
While the dominance was fully on display, there were plenty of moments that need not be forgotten before the series shifts back to Boston. So let’s run through the leftover thoughts from the Bruins’ dominating 6-1 victory over the Penguins.
–Brad Marchand is considered, rather fairly, to be a pest. It’s a reputation he’s earned by getting under the skin of his opponents and essentially being the person whom you asked to leave your sixth birthday party for popping all of your balloons, drinking all of your juice boxes, breaking your favorite toy and elbowing all your friends out of the way in the frenzied rush for candy that falls out of the piñata. You know, the kid with the orange soda mustache who burps right in your face and thinks it’s funny.
But on Monday night, he showed why he is so much more than a pest.
He had the sense and skills to take advantage of Sidney Crosby’s misplay, hit the neutral zone at full speed, beat the defense down the ice and beat Tomas Vokoun to the glove side. It was a game-changer, just 28 seconds into the game.
Later, with the Penguins’ having just cut the B’s lead to 3-1 with 33 seconds left in the first period and looking poised to carry some momentum into the locker room, Marchand engaged with Matt Cooke, a man who makes “pests” seem like saints. Marchand squared up with Cooke at the Boston blue line in what looked to be a developing situation. Instead of sticking around and possibly taking a stupid penalty though, Marchand took off with a burst down the left wing, leaving Cooke far behind in his wake. Marchand unleashed the rising wrister he made famous during the Cup run in 2011 past the glove of Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Bruins a 4-1 lead and completely kill any life the Penguins might have gained from their own goal.
Marchand can bug you, but he can beat you too.
–The goals got him the glory, but Marchand also stepped in front of a one-time slap shot by Brooks Orpik at the 3:40 mark of the first period. Perhaps a younger, less mature Marchand might have been running victory laps in his head after scoring so early in such a big game, but he deserves credit for sticking to Bruins hockey. That shot block was one of 11 by the Bruins, a factor that quietly played an important role in Game 2.
–Just a reminder that Matt Cooke is a terrible hockey player. Just take the 5 seconds to watch this gif, and then laugh.
–This series is over. Think that’s crazy to say? I have a question for you — who is the Penguins’ goalie? You don’t know, I don’t know, and the Penguins don’t know. No goalie, no wins, series over.
–Tuukka Rask didn’t have a ton of work to do, but he still made some nifty saves. Most notably, he went to the split to make a glove save on a Paul Martin blast from the blue line, which I found impressive because he didn’t pull a hamstring after standing still for 15 minutes without having to do anything.
–I said it in Game 1, and I’ll say it again now: The Penguins are insane to try to turn this series into a street fight. Some of the goals the Penguins scored against the Islanders and Senators were picture-perfect things of beauty. This team has enough goal-scoring talent in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby — let alone Jarome Iginla, James Neal, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz — to beat the Bruins with offense. Instead, they seem intent on trying to beat up the Bruins.
They’re succeeding in that regard, at least in the sense that they have been credited with 71 hits while the Bruins have been credited with just 38 through two games. But the Bruins have nine goals to the Penguins’ one, and I’m pretty sure that’s the only stat that determines which team gets to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
I said after Game 1 that few teams ever enter a physical battle against the Bruins and emerge victorious. It’s a bad strategy, especially when you’re loaded with skill. Apparently, Dan Bylsma is not a fan of my work, because he went right back to the same strategy to get blown out in Game 2. Well, Mr. Bylsma, the feeling is now mutual.
–The worst offender in the physical game was Brooks Orpik. He went overboard by trying to flip Chris Kelly into the Penguins bench and was penalized for interference. As he came out of the box, he set his target lock on Torey Krug and did a good job of delivering a good body check. The problem was he allowed Krug to fire a shot toward net, and Nathan Horton was there to tip it and then bury the rebound. A stick check to disrupt Krug’s shot would have prevented the goal, but Orpik wanted to send a message by laying out the rookie. Congratulations, well done, good job. But the Bruins scored.
He wanted to send another message by starting a fight with a stickless Jaromir Jagr later in the first, but Jaromir Jagr is Jaromir Jagr, so he just skated away. Then, on that second Marchand goal, Orpik thought he could win a board battle with Jagr but ended up getting knocked on his back by the 41-year-old. Jagr took the puck and passed to Bergeron, and with Orpik well out of position, Marchand was left with plenty of room to operate on his second goal of the night.
But hey, at least he registered three hits on the stat sheet! That’ll show the Bruins who’s boss!
–I didn’t notice this myself, so credit to NESN.com’s Mike Cole for pointing it out, but Kris Letang has been on the ice for six of the Bruins’ nine goals this year. Kris Letang is a Norris Trophy finalist. Zdeno Chara, a plus-10 this postseason, is not. Awards, often, are stupid.
–I’ve been keeping track of this throughout the postseason and sporadically updating it here in the leftover thoughts, so let’s check in on where Tuukka Rask’s postseason through 14 games compares with Tim Thomas’ run in 2011 through 14 games:
Rask: 10-4 record, .935 save percentage, 1.99 GAA
Thomas: 10-4 record, .932 save percentage, 2.23 GAA
(For the record, I hate this comparison, because there’s no point in it. But, Rask will always unfairly be judged against Thomas’ otherworldly performance in the spring of 2011, so it’s important to note just how well Rask is playing.)’
–I don’t watch Game Of Thrones, but based on all the tweets and Facebook posts I’ve seen about it in the past two days, I feel like this photo looks like a scene out of this past week’s episode:
–It tells you a lot about the Bruins’ chemistry that the Army Rangers jacket that’s been passed around to the player of the game doesn’t always go to the natural headliner. It’s clear that by passing the jacket on to Jaromir Jagr, the guys appreciate the efforts of the veteran for his two assists. Though he still isn’t scoring, if Jagr brings that kind of game from here on out, the Bruins will be very happy. The board battle along the boards with Orpik on the Marchand goal came thanks to his ridiculously strong lower body, and the backhand dish to Patrice Bergeron for the sixth goal was pretty slick.
–Jagr said after the win, while sporting the Rangers jacket and a Bruins winter hat, “I’ve never really played on a team where all four lines can play that good.” For the record, he’s 41 and has played for six different NHL franchises since 1990, so that’s really saying something.
–The officiating was solid in Game 2 … except for the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties assessed to Milan Lucic and Deryk Engelland for trying to fight each other after a whistle. I do believe fighting is allowed in this sport, so if anyone was violating the code of true sportsmen, it was the officials who stepped in and robbed the world of a good fight.
–Torey Krug hasn’t scored in a while (what a bum — trade him!), but his defense in a 1-0n-1 situation against Sidney Crosby stood out in Game 2. With four minutes left in the second, Crosby carried the puck over center ice with the 5-foot-9 rookie in front of him. Krug has 10 NHL games to his name; Crosby has twice as many goals as Krug has minutes on the ice. It was a mismatch of tremendous proportions … and yet, Krug stood up Crosby, forced him to turn his back to the net and laid a hit at the blue line that separated Crosby from the puck and knocked him to the ice. Krug is looking awfully comfortable out there.
–The saying goes that pictures are worth a thousand words. Well, this story has gone over a thousand words, but I think I could have just posted this picture and you would’ve known the whole story of Game 2: