Such a scenario would be construed as a failure for a team that was the odds-on favorite to reach the Stanley Cup Final, especially after general manager Ray Shero loaded up before the NHL Trade Deadline with the acquisitions of Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Jussi Jokinen and Douglas Murray.
As such, there is a consensus that the 2013-14 Penguins would look significantly different if the team is bounced from the Stanley Cup Playoffs this weekend. There have been some rumblings coach Dan Byslma would lose his job over such a failure.
Bylsma addressed that issue during his off-day press conference Thursday.
"I don't coach, have never coached for my job," Blysma said. "When I took over as coach of this hockey team in 2009, I came here to win hockey games, and that's where we're at right now. We know exactly what's in front of us with being down 0-3, but I believe in that group, I believe in that team, I believe in how we battled and how we're going to battle. And we're going to go in knowing we have an elimination game and win Game 4."
BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forward Gregory Campbell broke his right fibula Wednesday night, blocking a slap shot from Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. Campbell is out for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That's the bad news -- and it is extremely bad news for a team that is the spitting image of Campbell's tenacity and grit.
"That's the way he is," said Boston center Patrice Bergeron, who scored the winning goal to end Game 3 in double overtime, 2-1 in favor of the home team. "He sacrifices the body always for the team, for the better of the team. Obviously, we tried to rally behind that and do it for him because he's a big part of our team on and off the ice."
The good news is that Boston won the game in which Campbell was injured to put the Penguins on the brink of elimination in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Final. Boston needs to win one of the next four games, beginning Friday with Game 4 at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons.
But, he was eager to give it a try Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 at Consol Energy Center.
It turned out he was ready. Ference played a little more than 17 minutes and assisted on the game-opening goal by David Krejci in a 3-0 victory.
“It’s kind of like jumping on a moving train obviously to come in at this point in the season," Ference said.
PITTSBURGH -- Though there are many areas in which the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins seem to have an advantage in this Eastern Conference Final, the faceoff circle is not one of them.
The fourth-seeded Boston Bruins have dominated draws throughout the postseason, topping the League with a 57.5 success rate. Pittsburgh is at 50. 1 percent.
This could be a key area because if Boston can start with possession of the puck on a regular basis after play stoppages, Pittsburgh's skill players will have to expend more energy trying to regain possession. That means less time spent generating offense.
Part of the reason Boston is so good in the faceoff circle is that they have so many quality options. Five players have taken 90 or more draws for the Bruins during their 12-game postseason run. Almost all have been phenomenally successful.
PITTSBURGH -- Despite a sketchy history when it comes to long layoffs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien said his team is ready for the Eastern Conference Final despite having a week without a game.
Boston last played this past Saturday when it defeated the New York Rangers to end their second-round series in five games. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had eight days off after eliminating the Ottawa Senators in five games a week ago Friday.
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final is Saturday at Consol Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
"There are some decisions that we are going to make tomorrow, going to be game-time," Julien said Friday, minutes after the Bruins arrived at their hotel here. "There are some decisions that are going to be made and that is the beauty of it that we have decisions we can make.
"I'm certainly not going to tip my hand here and tell you guys who is in and who is out because that is the advantage we have in the playoffs and we definitely want to take advantage of that."
Morrow, who missed Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday with an undisclosed injury, and took line rushes with the extra forwards at the morning skate Friday, found his way back into the lineup for Game 5.
He scored the first goal of the game 6:25 into the first period.
Morrow said Friday morning he felt better and it would be a game-time decision whether he played.
Here is what the Penguins lineup looked like for Game 5:
PITTSBURGH -- Not surprisingly, the comments made by Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson in the aftermath of Game 4 were still a primary topic of discussion 36 hours later on the morning of Game 5.
After absorbing a 7-3 shellacking in Game 4 Wednesday, on home ice, no less, Alfredsson was asked if he could see his team winning three straight games to wriggle free of the elimination situation they now face for the duration of this best-of-7 series, starting Friday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
His answer sent shockwaves across the province of Ontario and many other hockey-mad communities across North America.
"Probably not," Alfredsson said in the Ottawa dressing room Wednesday night. "I mean, with their depth and power play right now, you know, it doesn't look too good."
Many saw that statement as a concession speech of sorts from the Ottawa leader. Others saw it as a motivational ploy. Alfredsson has since tried to clarify his comment but has not backed off it.