Realistically, if the Bruins were not still alive, would anyone in this city know or care who is still playing? How about three weeks from now when the playoffs are still going?A little more effort next time New York, please!Luckily for us, the Bruins are still in the playoffs and are playing well and are set to play the Pittsburgh Penguins, after a week off. (Again, why is the NHL so incredibly inept that they cannot get this series going without a week off?!) The Bruins dispatched the delightfully dysfunctional New York Rangers in five games. Some of us wouldn’t have minded a bit more from the City to the Southwest Blueshirts, if only because Boston/New York rivalries are among the best in the sporting universe. A little more effort next time New York, please!
The Penguins bring a healthy dose of hate to Bruins fans who remember Ulf Samuelsson’s assault on Cam Neely’s knee, Matt Cooke’s near decapitation of Marc Savard and of course the most recent (and least relevant) hijacking of the Jarome Iginla trade. The latter of course allowed us to get the ageless, yet suddenly showing his age, Jaromir Jagr who incredibly was a rookie on the Penguins in 1991 when Samuelsson kneed Neely’s knee into retirement.History will do little to influence the outcome of this series.However, the history will do little to influence the outcome of this series. Unlike the Rangers who play a similar style to the Bruins, the Penguins boast two of the best offensive hockey players in the world in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. They will score plenty of goals and will test Tuukka Rask in ways the Rangers or Maple Leafs were not able to. The Penguins are playing their backup goalie, the serviceable but ageing Thomas Vokoun after their starter crashed and burned in the first round of the playoffs and their competition thus far has been the weak Islanders and the game but severely undermanned Ottawa Senators.
Meanwhile the Bruins have a crew of rookie defensemen highlighted by the diminutive in stature but not in slapshot Torrey Krug. The rest of the team is more or less healthy. Season long enigma Milan Lucic seems to have found his form and his grinding and pounding game. The ever under-rated Patrice Bergeron continues to play a sublime, hockey lover’s brand of hockey, while the similarly under-rated David Kreji leads the playoffs in scoring.
We can and should expect these teams to be a bit rusty after a whirling dervish three-month regular season and the inexplicable week off before the puck drops. This series will be a compelling mix of grit versus skill for those of us who cherish playoff hockey. It might just be compelling enough to keep you off the beach for another week.