Going up against the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston came into enemy territory unafraid, ending Game 1 with a 3-0 victory and taking away Pittsburgh’s home ice advantage in the process.
Here are a few observations from the Bruins’ all-important first victory of the series.
David Krejci continues his Conn Smythe campaign.
It had been a while since Krejci put a puck in the net, goalless since his triumphant hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, even though he hadn’t scored a goal in a while, he was still tallying points left and right, leading the league coming into tonight’s game.
Well, it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
Krejci put the Bruins on the board midway through the first period with a slapper that found its way through goalie Tomas Vokoun‘s five hole. In the third, he provided a back-breaker, scoring on a crazy deflection that completely sucked the air out of the Consol Energy Center.
Nobody said they had to be pretty goals to count.
In a series featuring two of the best centers in the world, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, it was Krejci who came storming out of the gate first. Don’t expect the two Penguin superstars to be quiet all series, but Boston is in good hands if Krejci keeps playing at this level.
Tuukka Rask must be Finnish for “brick wall.”
At least it was tonight, anyways.
Rask is facing an incredible uphill battle in this series, as it seems almost every Pittsburgh player is a scoring threat. However, tonight they all went home with the same number on their points stat line: zero.
Recording his first ever playoff shutout, Rask looked sharp all night against the Penguins. Sure, he may owe a couple nods to his goalposts, but blanking Pittsburgh is no easy feat. By the end of the game, the Penguins were frustrated beyond belief as every legit chance they got was turned away.
If there was any Bruin that needed to start this series off positively, it was Rask. Its just one game, but the mission was accomplished for tonight.
Andrew Ference makes his return to Boston’s blue line.
As recently as yesterday, Ference had not been cleared to play, still suffering from an undisclosed lower body injury.
Surprisingly though, he laced up his skates for Game 1, supplanting rookie Matt Bartkowski. The move was immediately met with some skepticism from Boston fans.
Bartkowski was coming off a series against the New York Rangers in which he played incredibly effective hockey. One had to wonder if coach Claude Julien was making a mistake in subbing in Ference. Pittsburgh is not the team you play to chip the rust off.
However, Ference showed no signs of fatigue, looking solid and providing an assist in Krejci’s first goal.
This type of depth is a great problem for Boston to have, and its good to see they’re taking advantage of it.
Thanks to Matt Cooke and Brad Marchand, this series is going to be nasty.
Since this game involved Cooke, there was naturally going to be a controversial hit. Very few people bought in to his “I’m a changed man” routine, and the doubt will continue after he received a game misconduct for boarding Adam McQuaid.
Shortly after Cooke was tossed, Marchand got into the mix by decking James Neal. Though he received a boarding call as well, he only had to serve a two-minute minor. Its safe to say no one in Pittsburgh was happy.
From there, things got a little chippy. Crosby bumped Rask before making poor life choices and trying to get in Boston captain Zdeno Chara‘s face. Patrice Bergeron, rarely one to drop the gloves, got into a scrap with Malkin.
Make no mistake; this is a sign of things to come. The Eastern Conference Finals are going to be quite a physical battle.
Expect the rough stuff to carry over into Game 2 Monday night. Tonight, though, it was the Bruins who drew first blood.