Game Thread - Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Boston Bruins
It's the classic non-must-win must-win game for the Penguins, as they trail the Bruins 2-0 going back to Boston for Game 3. They'll need to regain composure to make it a series.
As Elliotte Friedman pointed out in his 30 Thoughts for this week, the Penguins need to stop trying to prove they're as tough as the Bruins, and just focus on playing hockey. Sidney Crosby had maybe the worst game of his NHL career in Game 2, which began with his somewhat unlucky giveaway 30-seconds in, and Evgeni Malking wasn't much better. Those two guys are going to have to regain the form that made them so explosive against the Senators.
They aren't alone, however. Throughout his career, Zdeno Chara has done an excellent job shutting down Malkin, and Bergeron the same with Crosby. Secondary scorers and line-mates like James Neal and Chris Kunitz will need to step up their games to take some of the focus off of the team's stars. Watching the goals from games 1 and 2, these Penguins remind me a lot of the Canadiens during their late-season slump. It wasn't so much that that Pittsburgh is getting dominated, it's just that every Bruins chance, as a result of horrific defensive coverage, is resulting in a goal. Unfortunately for the Pens, they don't have much time to turn things around. They will need a stronger structural game, and some heroic efforts, to get back into this one.
It's also time we recognize that Tuukka Rask is one of the top few goalies in the NHL. He's been a stud throughout his young career, and it's getting to the point where sample size is no longer an issue. Rask is consistent, dependable, and it's hard not to hate the Leafs for giving him away.
Meanwhile, (fifth-best career save percentage among active goalies) Tomas Vokoun gets the start for the Penguins.
Prediction: Penguins 4-2 Bruins
Bylsma gets his troops refocused, and James Neal bags a pair. Weigh in with your predictions and thoughts below.