5 Questions for Boston Bruins as They Prepare for Pittsburgh Penguins
2013 NHL Playoffs: Five Questions for Boston Bruins' Battle with Pittsburgh Penguins
The NHL Eastern Conference Finals don't start until Saturday, but the anticipation is reaching a fever pitch.
The heavily-favored Pittsburgh Penguins are a who’s who of superstars. The Boston Bruins, given new life after a Game 7 stunner against the Toronto Maple Leafs, are playing their most inspired hockey in what seems like a year.
It's offensive prowess going up against shutdown defense. A titanic juggernaut that can score at will versus a unit who gives up goals at a minimum.
This series will be a true definition of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, with the winner getting a chance to play for the greatest prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup.
Both teams enter after advancing from their previous rounds in opposite fashion. Despite losing three times in 11 games, Pittsburgh rarely felt too threatened by the New York Islanders and especially the Ottawa Senators.
Boston, though defeating the New York Rangers in relatively stress free fashion, were ten minutes away from being eliminated in round one. After severely underestimating the Maple Leafs, the Bruins survived one heck of a scare in Game 7, overcoming a 4-1 deficit to prevail in overtime.
Now, it’s time to determine who really is the king of the Eastern Conference. There are plenty of questions for each team to answer as they enter this series. Facing what will undoubtedly be the toughest challenge left in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, here are the five biggest ones the Bruins need to answer.
Will the Bruins Prove Jarome Iginla Wrong?
It’s the biggest storyline of this series.
Iginla was traded to Boston, then chose Pittsburgh instead. In doing so, he sent a clear message to the Bruins; you’re not good enough
Does Boston need any more motivation than that?
Every Bruin should’ve dreamt of this scenario. What better opportunity can you get to avenge the disrespect sent towards your team than to beat Iginla and the Penguins on the grand stage?
This is undoubtedly the juiciest aspect of this series, and Boston shouldn’t have any trouble using it as fuel for their fire.
Will Tuukka Rask Win the Goalie Battle?
If there’s one advantage the Bruins have over the Penguins, it’s in net.
Marc-Andre Fleury looked shaky beyond belief against the Islanders and has since been pulled for Tomas Vokoun. The vet backup has steadied the ship but not as convincingly as the Penguins would like.
Rask, on the other hand, is coming off a series in which he outperformed Henrik Lundqvist. He’s single-handedly won more than a few games for Boston this postseason.
All praise aside, Rask faces much more pressure than Vokoun. The amount of scoring threats the Bruins netminder will see is enough to drive him insane.
If Rask wants to put an end to the doubters, he won’t get a better chance than this.
Will The Bruins Go After Matt Cooke For Marc Savard Incident?
The event occurred three years ago, but plenty of Bruins remember.
Cooke threw a vicious hit on center Marc Savard, effectively ending his career. The hit was deemed legal, though it sure didn’t look that way.
Regardless, you wouldn’t blame a few Bruins for looking to send some payback Cooke’s way. He may have to answer to Boston enforcer Shawn Thornton more than a few times this series.
We’ll be sure to find out soon enough how much bad blood still boils from the Penguins' grinder forcing Savard to retire early.
Will Returning to Pittsburgh Rejuvinate Jaromir Jagr?
It’s time for Boston’s marquee trade deadline acquisition to start scoring. What better way to do so than playing in the city where he started his NHL career?
Jagr has had more than a few issues putting pucks in the net, which is disheartening for Boston. The Czech winger was brought in to score goals, and he hasn’t cashed in yet.
However, you’d struggle to believe Jagr won’t find motivation from being back in Pittsburgh. His competitive nature will surely be ramped up at the chance to show Penguins fans he’s still got it.
Will the Bruins' Rookies Be Intimidated by Pittsburgh?
It’s safe to say rookie defensemen Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug have reached cult status in Boston.
Both came out of the gate flying, looking unafraid of the big stage against New York. Krug scored four times in five games and three times on the power play.
However, they’re about to face the biggest challenge of their young careers. They will not only be tasked with going punch for punch with Pittsburgh, but they have to stop them from scoring, too.
Some worried these kids could potentially be flame outs, but if they somehow continue their surprising play, it might be time to recognize their true talent.