What Blackhawks can expect from Bruins
BOSTON — The Bruins had just knocked off the top-seeded Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals in shocking fashion, inducing a collapse of one of the league’s best offenses on the way to a series sweep.
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron figured that allowed for a short celebration Friday night after the Bruins’ 1-0 series-clinching victory at TD Garden.
“Obviously, enjoy this tonight,” Bergeron said. “But still tomorrow we have to refocus and get back at it.”
The Bruins will refocus to try to win their seventh Stanley Cup — and second in three years — beginning Wednesday night in Chicago.
Here’s a look at what the Blackhawks can expect from them in the Stanley Cup Final:
How the Bruins won
“Disbelief” was the word Penguins coach Dan Bylsma chose to describe the disintegration of his team’s offense in the series.
Some of it was luck, both the Penguins and Bruins coach Claude Julien said, but much was the Bruins’ tight, disciplined style of play and the goaltending of Tuukka Rask. Led by the top defensive duo of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins limited the league’s regular-season scoring leaders to two goals in nearly 14 periods of play. The Penguins never led.
“They’re consistent,” Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. “They don’t give you chances. You have to earn them. We earned them, but unfortunately we didn’t capitalize on them.”
The Bruins’ penalty kill was 15-for-15 against one of the league’s best power-play units, a stat Julien credited to preparation and in-series adjustments.
Six players scored for the Bruins in the series, including center David Krejci, who upped his playoff total to 21 points with four goals in the first three games. Brad Marchand, who said he embraced the “irritator” role, scored twice in Game 2 and then assisted the winning goals in the next two games.
But the Bruins take pride in being a complete team rather than just a couple of star players.
“There are four lines that can play. It’s a huge advantage,” Bruins winger Jaromir Jagr said. “You’re not depending on one or two guys and everybody waiting for them to score ... Here everybody can score any time. Coach tries to roll four lines no matter what the situation is.”
The Bruins also received scoring from their defensemen, who had the final goals in two games, including Adam McQuaid’s series-clincher in the third period Friday.
Cool-tempered hot goalie
Dubbed “Cool Hand Tuke” by the Boston media, Rask is the king of playing it cool in postgame interviews, and he has been more than composed on the ice too.
The Penguins had scored in 96 straight games before the 3-0 loss in Game 1, and then Rask and the Bruins pitched another shutout three games later. He totaled 134 saves in four games, including 53 in a double-overtime victory in Game 3, for a .985 save percentage in the series. He brought his goals-against average for the playoffs to 1.75.
“There’s no question that the performance he put in, in this series was elite,” Pittsburgh’s Bylsma said. “He was the difference in the series.”
With help from Chara, who deflected an Evgeni Malkin shot with his arm by sprawling his 6-foot-9 body in front of the goal, Rask withstood a furious Penguins onslaught in the final minute of Game 4. He caught the final shot by Jarome Iginla in his glove to set off the celebration.
“He saved us again,” Seidenberg said. “I mean, especially at the end, it seemed like there were 10 guys out there for our shift. They were throwing pucks everywhere, and he seemed to just find the lane and find the puck and get his glove or a body part on it.”
Team on a roll
Consider the Bruins a team picking up steam.
Since roaring back from a three-goal deficit in the third period to defeat the Maple Leafs in overtime of Game 7 in the conference quarterfinals, the Bruins have won eight of their last nine. They allowed more than two goals just once in the last two series.
The lockdown of the Penguins should provide even more confidence to the Bruins defense and Rask, who will look for more of the same against their Stanley Cup Final opponent.
“We know there’s still a long ways to go,” Chara said. “But we just gave ourselves a chance.”