Bruins keeping things in check
Despite commanding lead over Penguins, they won't get ahead of themselves
PITTSBURGH -- The last thing the Boston Bruins want to hear right now is any mention of their 2011 Stanley Cup championship.
After the Bruins dominated the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 6-1 win in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday night at Consol Energy Center to take a 2-0 series lead, it's hard not to think Boston is playing the same way it did when it hoisted the Cup for the first time in 39 years two seasons ago.
Don't even try to whisper that notion around the 2013 version of the Bruins.
"It's nothing like 2011," said an almost-angry Brad Marchand, who scored two goals Monday night. "It's a completely different playoffs. It's a completely different team. We just want to make sure we play hard every game and hope for the best."
The Bruins have outscored the previously potent Penguins 9-1 in the first two games, which is almost inconceivable given the talent on the Pittsburgh roster. The Bruins have simply played their style of hockey and the Penguins haven't been able to respond.
At this point, it's also hard to believe that Boston was considered the underdog prior to the series.
"We're not really worried about what's said outside of the room," Marchand said. "We know we have a good team and we just want to compete hard every game and give ourselves an opportunity to win. The Penguins are an incredible team and we definitely have a battle ahead of us."
The Bruins couldn't have asked for a more complete game. In addition to the explosive offense, the Bruins were blocking shots (15) and closing off passing and shooting lanes the entire night. Boston played with discipline and gave the Penguins only two power plays, both of which they killed off with ease.
As a result, the Bruins hold a commanding lead in the series, which moves to Boston with Games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Friday at TD Garden.
"We put a lot of emphasis on how important this game was for us, and obviously when you win the first game you want to do everything you can to try to win that second one," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "It started off perfectly for us with the way [Marchand] was able to step up and get that goal. It's great we were able to come in here and win both games, but it's definitely far from over."
The Bruins were hoping for a fast, strong start and they accomplished that.
Marchand scored his first of two goals 28 seconds into the first period. Boston added two more goals, from Nathan Horton and David Krejci, for a 3-0 lead on only 12 shots. That forced Penguins coach Dan Bylsma to change his goalies, replacing Tomas Vokoun with Marc-Andre Fleury at 16:31 of the opening period.
"We wanted to score the first goal, and luckily it happened on the first shift," Bruins veteran forward Jaromir Jagr said. "It's always good for the team when you score first and get the confidence a little bit and try to play our game. It was our goal and it happened."
Marchand's second goal came with 9 seconds left in the first period, just 25 seconds after Pittsburgh made it 3-1. The Bruins kept piling on the offense as the Penguins' defensive play simply crumbled, with Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk each scoring in the third period en route to the pulverizing of the Penguins.
Jagr, who experienced the Bruins' Cup win two years ago from afar, finally understands the true ability of this team. When he first arrived via trade at the deadline, the Bruins weren't playing well, but now Boston's play resembles a championship-caliber team.
"The key is our coach is rolling four lines and all four lines are able to score goals and defend, so this is our advantage," Jagr said. "Through my experience, I've never played on a team where all four lines can play that good and that's a huge advantage in the playoffs."
For all the solid X's and O's play by the Bruins in the playoffs, the X factor for them has been their experience when playing springtime hockey. All the devastation and jubilation Boston has experienced the past few postseasons has served them well this year.
"We've been through a lot over the years," Lucic said. "Game 7 against Philly [in 2010] we're up 3-0 and we lose. Two years ago in Game 4 against Tampa we were up 3-0 as well and they came back to win that game. With everything we've gone through as a team we definitely don't want to take anything for granted here.
"When you have a lead like that, you don't want to take it for granted, and when you have a series lead like this -- we're definitely happy we got the two wins, but we need to get refocused and have the same attitude like we had going into this game."
Despite a terrible performance in the first two games by the Penguins, this team still is dangerous and no doubt has the ability to rebound in the series. When Pittsburgh won the Cup in 2009, the Penguins trailed 2-0 against the Washington Capitals in the conference semifinals, and also against the Detroit Red Wings in the Cup finals. So being down like this is nothing new for them.
But with the way the Bruins have played in the first two games, and with the next two games on home ice, Boston has a chance to put a stranglehold on the Penguins -- if it hasn't done so already.
"You try to feed off your home crowd and try to get off to a quick lead like we did tonight," Lucic said. "Playing good, hard, smart Bruins hockey is what got us to this point.
"Obviously, they're a team that's not going to quit. They were down twice in 2009 and they fought their way back, so you know they have the character in that room to be able to do it again."
If the Bruins continue to play this way, they could have a chance to do it again too. Just don't mention it in their locker room.
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