Share This Page

Breakdown: Eastern Conference final, Penguins vs. Bruins

| Sunday, May 26, 2013, 11:03 p.m.
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien (center) talks with his players during a timeout against the New York Rangers on Saturday, May 25, 2013.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Kris Letang skates with the puck against the Senators on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

The cream has risen in the East.

Though only the fourth seed, the Bruins always have been perceived as the greatest threat to the Penguins returning to the Stanley Cup Final.

This showdown appears to be a contrast in philosophies: the Pretty Penguins vs. the Big Bad Bruins. However, to assess these clubs based on their historical reputations would be foolish.

The Bruins are physical, but centers Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin possess elite skill as does that Jaromir Jagr fellow who joined Boston at the trade deadline.

Yeah, him again.

Jagr's cross-ice passing tortured the Penguins while he played for Philadelphia last postseason. Like those Flyers, these Bruins have forwards (notably Milan Lucic) who will go hard to the net to cash in.

The Bruins likely need to find more offense than they did against Toronto or the New York Rangers because the Penguins are scoring like it's 1989, averaging 4.27 goals in 11 playoff games.

Captain Sidney Crosby has seven goals, and fellow former MVP center Evgeni Malkin has 16 points. But neither has consistently found that gear that separates them from, well, everybody else.

Even without that gear, Crosby and Malkin are nightmare matchups for the Bruins defense, which looked like it had slowed before it was battered this postseason.

GM Ray Shero will not say it, but he probably had the Bruins on his mind when he acquired wingers Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla, defenseman Douglas Murray and forward Jussi Jokinen, the latter a faceoff force who could somewhat offset the usual dominance on draws by Bergeron.

Iginla chose the Penguins over the Bruins in March.

His history outside of Calgary may be defined by this series.

REGULAR SEASON

The Penguins went 3-0-0 against the Bruins. They outscored Boston, 8-5, in those games.

LEADERS

Penguins: C Brandon Sutter (2 goals): LW Chris Kunitz, RW Beau Bennett, LW Jussi Jokinen (tied, 2 assists); Kunitz, Jokinen (tied, 3 points).

Bruins: C Tyler Seguin (3 goals); C Patrice Bergeron, D Zdeno Chara (tied, 2 assists); Seguin, Chara (tied, 3 points).

GOALIES

Penguins: Tomas Vokoun (2-0-0, .958 save percentage, 1.50 goals-against average), Marc-Andre Fleury (1-0-0, .875 save percentage, 2.00 goals-against average).

Bruins: Tuukka Rask (0-2-0, .881 save percentage, 2.54 goals-against average), Anton Khudobin (0-1-1, .813 save percentage, 4.61 goals-against average).

COACHES

DAN BYLSMA, PENGUINS

Playoff record: 36-25, won Stanley Cup (2009).

CLAUDE JULIEN, BRUINS

Playoff record: 48-38, won Stanley Cup (2011)

PLAYOFF HISTORY

The Penguins and Bruins have split four series.

1979 STANLEY CUP QUARTERFINAL

Bruins 4, Penguins 0

The Don Cherry-coached Bruins, on their way to a showdown with rival Montreal, ran roughshod over an overmatched Penguins squad. The Bruins swept the Penguins, racking up 16 goals in four games.

1980 STANLEY CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND

Bruins 3, Penguins 2

The Penguins led, 2-1, before the Bruins stormed back with an 8-3 road win in Game 4 and a 6-2 close-out victory in Game 5 at Boston Garden.

1991 WALES CONFERENCE FINAL

Penguins 4, Bruins 2

Trailing, 2-0, Kevin Stevens promised a series win. The Penguins won the next four games by a combined score of 20-7. Ulf Samuelsson's controversial hit on Cam Neely lingers for fans of both clubs.

1992 WALES CONFERENCE FINAL

Penguins 4, Bruins 0

Jaromir Jagr won Game 1 in overtime for the Penguins, but the rest of the series was mostly noncompetitive. The Penguins burnt the Bruins for 15 goals over the last three games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

KRIS LETANG, PENGUINS

His ability to win puck races and control tempo could shape the series. The Bruins thrive on forecheck-pressure and offensive-zone possession. The Penguins' system is based on quick puck movement from defensemen. Letang's decision making will be challenged. If he cuts down on mistakes, his ability to carry the puck and make plays is something for which the Bruins have no solution.

TYLER SEGUIN, BRUINS

Speed and skill are what tax the Penguins most. The Bruins are not blessed with many players who combine both attributes, but Seguin is the exception. Aside from goalie Tim Thomas, he was arguably the biggest difference-maker for Boston's 2011 Cup run, which he owned offensively from the third round on. He scored three of the Bruins' five regular-season goals against the Penguins.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.