Playoff Gameday: Eastern Conference Final – Game One

Boston Bruins @ Pittsburgh Penguins
Series Tied 0-0

NBC, CBC, RDS – 8:00 pm/et

Consol Energy Center – Pittsburgh, PA

Remember the Pittsburgh Penguins? If not, here's a bit of a refresher.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a professional hockey team that plays in the National Hockey League. The team had a pretty successful 2013 season. They entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. After some difficulties early on, the Penguins eliminated the New York Islanders in the first round of the playoffs. They then moved on to face the Ottawa Senators. The Penguins defeated the Senators in five games. Things were looking good for the Penguins until, one day, they just disappeared.

Time passed. Nations shifted. Society grew and evolved. And all of this happened without the Pittsburgh Penguins playing a single hockey game. It was almost as if the team, and their future opponents the Boston Bruins, had completely vanished. No one understood why this occurred.

Now, after a long and painful absence, the Pittsburgh Penguins return tonight. 

How will the fans react? Will they remember team stars such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal? Will they even remember the rules of the sport that this team once played? After such a long absence, it's understandable if memory has become foggy. How will the Consol Energy Center handle the return of this team after such a long, long wait? Does the Consol Energy Center even still exist? 

All of these questions and more will be answered tonight when the Eastern Conference Final begins. It has been far, far too long. Drop the puck already.

Last Penguins/Bruins game that counted: April 20, 2013 – Penguins won 3-2.

What we said in our recap:

The Pens have completed a season sweep of the Bruins, and they've also completed a season sweep of the 2, 3, and 4 seeds currently in the East. And then there's the Pens' record vs. the 8 teams jockeying for position for the other 7 spots in the Eastern playoffs: 23-4.

The Pens have clinched the top seed, so this upcoming week is all about getting healthy and finalizing plans and lineups for the first round of the playoffs. It will be fun watching the race for the eight seed in the East.

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What they're saying:

But now the Penguins will face their toughest competition and I don't think people are giving the Bruins enough credit. I think they tend to forget that the Bruins have overcome a team like this before – in the Vancouver Canucks – when people picked Vancouver in 4 or 5 games.

Boston has the offensive ability – albeit not as potent as Pittsburgh – to put pucks in the net. They have the defensive talent (hello Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg) to collapse towards the net and block a ton of shots.

Defensively the Penguins aren't great. Shit, you can make a case that they're not even good back there. Outside of Letang playing 4th forward, there's not much to fear. Sure Brooks Orpik can lay a hit every now and then, but there's also times where Cardboard Orpik comes to the arena. Douglas Murray? He'd have to catch someone first before he can slather them in whatever BBQ sauce he chooses and eats them.

Boston will be able to plant guys like Lucic and Horton in front of Vokoun and fire pucks at the net. I don't think Pittsburgh is going to put Murray and Martin out there against the Krejci line, but you never know. I think if they do, it opens up the other lines to mismatch against their defensemen.

Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:

Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Jarome Iginla – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Matt Cooke – Brandon Sutter – Tyler Kennedy
Brendan Morrow – Jussi Jokinen – Craig Adams

Paul Martin – Brooks Orpik
Mark Eaton – Kris Letang
Douglas Murray – Matt Niskanen

Tomas Vokoun


Boston Bruins Lines:

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jaromir Jagr
Rich Peverley – Chris Kelly – Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara – Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski – Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask


Do It.

Go Pens.