It is an outcome that would have sounded hilariously improbable on May 12, the night the Toronto Maple Leafs evened the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Boston Bruins at three wins apiece and had Bruins faithful worrying that they were about to have to say goodbye. Yet, just under a month later, here we are: the Bruins are the Prince of Wales Trophy holders, having completed the sweep of the hyped (overhyped, perhaps) Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that a lot of people probably expected to do the sweeping based on a lot of their on-paper stats. You know, the highest-powered offense during the regular season, the superstars on their roster, so many big and powerful guys, so many guys who used to captain other teams, all of that.
But it’s the playoffs, things are different and the Bruins have done it. They did it by a razor-thin margin in game four thanks to only a single goal from Adam McQuaid, the result of some clever passing from Brad Marchand and a wee deflection from the onetime possible Bruins himself, Jarome Iginla.
Other than that, there was nothing offense-wise. Tuukka Rask stood as tall as the Zakim Bridge, amassing an unreal goals-against average of 0.44 and a .986 save percentage for the series. Sure, it was a mere four games long, but that still counts. Who needs a Vezina Trophy nomination, especially considering that all three nominees for that prize are out of the playoffs–or never made them in the first place.
The Bruins outscored the Penguins by a six to one margin. They ensured that their vaunted power play would never convert, even when the reasons for a Pittsburgh man advantage seemed sketchy at best. (Let’s be honest here, though: officiating has been awful throughout the playoffs for pretty much every team.) They swept the Penguins out of the playoffs, a fate that has not befallen the team from Steel City for 34 years.
Those big stars I mentioned earlier, guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and famed Norris Trophy nominee Kris Letang? None of them made a single dent in the score sheets this series. Not a peep.
Sure, there were some missed opportunities in this game for the victorious team to increase their lead. It wasn’t a perfectly-executed game at all times, not by any means, but the win is what matters and that’s exactly what happened. Now that the East is won, it’s time to sit back and wait for the Western Conference to settle itself. Once again, it’s one of those math formula-like “if this happens, then the Stanley Cup Finals begin on this date” situations, but it will eventually become clearer than that.
When it does, one thing is for sure: the Bruins are going to be there. How sweet it is.