Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Penguins vs. Bruins: Does Pittsburgh's regular season sweep of Boston matter at all?

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

The Pens swept the three regular season games against the Bruins this year.  They were all very well-played one-goal games.  Does it matter?  Let's take a look back.

March 12th: The Sutter Game. Pens win, 3-2

What happened: The Bruins led 2-0 with under 7 minutes left in the third when Chris Kunitz got the Pens on the board and Brandon Sutter blacked out and woke up with his two biggest goals of the season. Highlights here.

What we wrote:
Almost immediately after Tyler Seguin scored to put the Bruins up 2-0 with 6:30 remaining in the first period, the Penguins started cobbling together one of their finer efforts of the season, even though they spent the next 33 minutes getting shutout by a goalie whose name was either a Mexican restaurant (Qdoba) or the Supreme Leader of Iran (Khomeni). If the Pens had gone on to get shut out, we would not have been overly discouraged. 
Relevance for Eastern Conference Finals: This was the Pens 6th win during the 15 game winning streak, and was the second game during the streak where the Pens started winning with good defensive efforts.

Read on for more...

March 17th: Joe Vitale, Game-Winner, Pens win, 2-1

What happened: Joe Vitale hit the turbo boosters and scored the game winner late in the first period. Highlights here.

What we wrote:
The Pens' winning streak hit nine games yesterday, but even more impressive, their play-the-right-way streak reached five games. In the last 5 games, the Pens have given up 1, 2, 1, 0, and 1 goals. In the 4 games before that it was 6, 3, 4 and 4. Both goalies are playing well and even though we disagree with Bylsma scratching Despres, it didn't matter yesterday. Whatever buttons he's pushing, it's working.
Relevance for Eastern Conference Finals: This was the Pens 9th win during the 15 game winning streak and Vokoun made 31 saves. But the Pens were outshot in this game 32-18, including 12-3 in the 3rd.

April 20th: The Iginla Game, Pens Win, 3-2

What happened: Jarome Iginla and Kris Letang scored enormous power-play goals in the 3rd period to break a 1-1 tie and clinch the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference.


What we wrote:
By any advanced statistical measure, the Bruins dominated the game against the Pens yesterday. By traditional measures, like discipline, beastmodeness, and final score, the Pens came out on top. ... For all the trades Shero has made, picking up Tomas Vokoun may still be his best. Pens are probably out of this game in the first period if Brent Johnson is in net.
Relevance for Eastern Conference Finals: Optimistic takeaway is that the Pens were outplayed and still won. Pessimistic takeaway is that the Pens were outplayed.

So, does any of this matter? The Pens went 3-0, but it was by no means a dominant 3-0.  The Pens got very good goaltending in each victory and scored some timely late goals in two of the three wins.  These teams are close. Very close.

But there was one major thing missing from each game that suggests Boston has yet to see the Pens' best punch.

Missed all three games.


  1. Just FYI, all 3 sets of highlights are from the same game, the one in Boston.

  2. Great point on Malkin missing all 3 matchups between these teams this season. I think if he plays like he did in the Sens series (the most dominate player on the ice) we beat Boston in 5. Despite this prediction, I am still concerned about our defense in front our own net. I think Lucic is very dangerous in that capacity.

    What do you guys think the 4th line will look like for game 1 of this series if everyone is healthy? IMO, it should be JJ, adams, and Vitale. If Tanner Glass even sniffs the ice, then I think its safe to assume that he and Byslma are having a romantic relationship off the ice.

    1. So if your 4th line is JJ-Adams-Vitale, does that mean either TK or Morrow are a healthy scratch? Also, I agree 100% on Tanner Glass.

      I'll hang up and listen.