Boston Bruins Conference Final Notes, Chapter 1

Charles LeClaire – USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the third round of notes following Boston Bruins playoff games! In lieu of standard game previews, since it’s just the same team they’re playing over and over again, these notes focus on happenings since the last whistle and before the next puck drop.

The biggest issue coming out of the first game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference final against the Pittsburgh Penguins is none other than the question of what would happen to Matt Cooke following his hit on Adam McQuaid. The answer to that is nothing–no supplemental discipline at all, reasoning being that the in-game punishment was enough. Basically everyone’s reaction, including that of coach Claude Julien, was to say that the referees made the right decision in calling the penalty. While that may be true, that doesn’t mean Bruins fans won’t be any less vigilant in keeping an eye on 24 and making sure he doesn’t get near anyone else like that.

Today, the Bruins held an optional skate, though it was rather well-attended by much of the team–even Patrice Bergeron, looking a little worse for wear after his fight with Evgeni Malkin, some scrapes around his eyes and a gash on the bridge of his nose. (What great timing: apparently, today the team had some photos to take as well as practicing.) He knows that things like that just happen, that it’s the playoffs and emotions are high, but it certainly was a rare sight to see a Hart Trophy winner and a Selke Trophy winner sparring like a couple of enforcers.

Not that there’s anything wrong with enforcers!

In the aftermath of the 3-0 shutout win, some within the Pittsburgh bubble have decided that Tuukka Rask was merely the beneficiary of some lucky bounces in making the 29 saves en route to his victory. He was apparently a lucky bounce beneficiary in the semifinal series too, of course.

But at what point do you look at a man whose stats so far are comparable to those of Tim Thomas at this point in 2011, a man who’s among the playoff leaders in all four goaltending metrics right now (whereas Pittsburgh’s Tomas Vokoun is among the leaders in just two categories) and decide that maybe, just maybe, he’s actually talented instead of just lucky?

He has another chance to shush the doubters starting tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Tune to NBC Sports Network.

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