Putting a lot of weight on one win over the Bruins would be like thinking that a coin flip is more likely to turn up heads next time because it turned up heads last time. These two teams are about as close as it gets, save for one, maybe two, small, but very important differences. The first, and most important, is the ability to avoid the downward mental spiral, or as we like to shorten it, "mentalability." The Pens dominated the first period of game 1, didn't score, and then couldn't recover for the next 5 periods. The Bruins got dominated in the first period of game 1, shrugged it off, and owned the next 5 periods. That's not a difference in talent, that's a difference in mentalability.
The other difference is attention to detail. Tukka Rask is a very good goalie, but a lot of goalies would put up similarly excellent statistics if they played in front of a team like Boston that never really gives up the Grade A scoring chance. The Pens had a lot of "chances" last year, they just weren't good looks. The Bruins hurry you, they clog lanes, and they make you force things that other teams -- like the Islanders and Senators -- don't do. So yeah, the Pens can get 30 shots a game -- or 54, like in Game 3 -- and it still feels like the Pens are being shut down. That's because the shots aren't threatening. The Pens defense is the opposite. They can hold a team to 21 shots, but it feels like 12 of them could be goals.
The bottom line is that there are very few things that could happen (other than injuries) that would make us more confident or less confident about the Pens chances if they meet the Bruins again in the playoffs. But last night was a reminder that last year's playoffs was like a blackjack dealer getting hot while you get cold. Eventually you'll get some good cards, even if the odds still favor the house. Slightly.
With that, a few pros and cons from the Pens 3-2 win.
Pro: The Penguins punched the bully in the nose. Coming off maybe the meekest showing the team has ever had in a playoff series, the Pens took the play to their tormentors for the better part of the night. And they did it without several of their top players. No moment signified the change in attitude more than when Bobby Bortuzzo stood toe to toe with Lucic and Chara in front of Fleury's net. By springtime, Bobby B. will be comfortable ensconced deep inside their heads.
|Has yet to play a game where an opponent didn't try to fight him.|
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