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Posted On Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 1:44 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Penguins' Vokoun good but not good enough

BOSTON -- Under any other circumstances, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun would be a hero. Friday, he just wasn't heroic enough.

With Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask posting a .985 save percentage and two shutouts in their four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference Final, Vokoun's performance wasn't enough to allow the Penguins to reach their goal of the Stanley Cup Final.

"Tomas, I thought, was two goals short of brilliant, two goals short of Tuukka Rask in these two games," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said after a 1-0 loss in Game 4 ended Pittsburgh's season. "He was great. Not as many saves as Rask in Game 3, but he was equally up to the task, and he was again tonight. I thought he played outstanding. It was dueling goaltenders there for a lot for Games 3 and 4."

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Posted On Friday, 06.07.2013 / 8:08 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Kennedy in, Vitale out for Penguins in Game 4

BOSTON -- Still looking for the lineup that will provide a jolt to the anemic attack of the Pittsburgh Penguins, coach Dan Bylsma made another lineup change for Game 4.

Forward Tyler Kennedy, scratched for the past two games, was reinserted into the lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. He replaces Joe Vitale.

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Posted On Friday, 06.07.2013 / 2:10 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Daugavins to replace Campbell for Bruins in Game 4

BOSTON -- On most hockey teams, the role of fourth-line center is rarely a source of great debate.

But the way the Boston Bruins are built and the way they play the game makes them unlike most hockey teams.

They are a team built on balance and depth, where the role of top-line scorer is no more or less important than a fourth-line grinder or enforcer.

Many teams say that is the case, but few actually put it in practice the way the Bruins do.

So when Gregory Campbell fractured his right fibula in the second period of Wednesday night's 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final, it created a hole far larger than it might have on a typical hockey team losing its fourth-line center.

That hole in the lineup will be filled by Kaspars Daugavins, coach Claude Julien confirmed Friday morning ahead of Game 4 of the conference final at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). But filling Campbell's role on the team will be done by committee.

"You don't replace a guy like Gregory Campbell by putting another guy in there," Julien said Friday morning. "He brings a lot. When you lose a guy like him, you realize the hole that he's left.”

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Posted On Friday, 06.07.2013 / 2:06 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Seguin getting used to playing on Bruins' third line

BOSTON -- Tyler Seguin was chosen by the Boston Bruins with the second pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. At the time, the belief around the League was he would be a top-line player with strong production on the offensive end.

Just under three years after he was drafted, Seguin finds himself on the Bruins' third line in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, filling a role he probably never envisioned himself playing at this stage of his career.

Seguin likely will be lining up against the Pittsburgh Penguins alongside Rich Peverley and Kaspars Daugavins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

The Bruins lead the best-of-7 series against the top-seeded Penguins 3-0 with a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final as soon as Friday. That is exactly why Seguin has no problem with how he's being used by Boston coach Claude Julien.

"It's an adjustment," Seguin said Friday. "But I think in the back of your head all you think about is going all the way and doing it for your team. Someone's got to do it. In the playoffs there's always someone doing something that they're not used to, whether it's injuries or whatnot. I'm doing what I can [while] being moved out of my regular position."

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Posted On Friday, 06.07.2013 / 1:42 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Campbell injury hurts Bruins' penatly-kill

BOSTON -- After a slow start to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins' penalty kill has been nearly airtight from the second round on.

Heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), the Bruins have killed off 26 of 28 power plays since the start of their second-round series against the New York Rangers.

Now the penalty kill will have a challenge almost as great as trying to stop Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of Pittsburgh's star-studded power play.

Center Gregory Campbell is done for the rest of the postseason with a broken fibula. He usually combines with fourth-line partner Daniel Paille to form one of Boston's three main pairs on their penalty kill, which ranked fourth in the NHL during the regular season.

"It's tough. He plays such a hard game," forward Brad Marchand said of losing Campbell. "He's such a big part of our team. You saw the last couple of rounds, he's been very big. He's not really a guy you can really replace, but everybody has to step up a little bit and hopefully, collectively we can fill that void."

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Posted On Friday, 06.07.2013 / 1:24 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Penguins, Bylsma only focused on Game 4

BOSTON -- There is no denying that changes could be afoot if the Pittsburgh Penguins lose Friday night and are swept out of the Eastern Conference Final by the lower-seeded Boston Bruins.

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."

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Posted On Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 11:37 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins' Campbell to miss rest of playoffs

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.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 9:23 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Penguins stick with Vokoun as Game 3 starter

BOSTON -- Two days of speculation and debate about who would start in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday against the Boston Bruins (NBCSN, CBC, RDS) turned out to be for nothing.

Tomas Vokoun started for the Penguins, as he has in every game for the past month.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma generally does not discuss his lineups with the media, but he did confirm beforehand Vokoun would be in goal for a 10th straight game.

"We're looking for a solid game from our goaltender," Bylsma said. "We've gotten that from Tomas in virtually every game he's played, a real solid performance. He's done that for us, and that's what we need [Wednesday] night. We don't need perfection. We're looking for a solid game in between the pipes and for our goaltender to allow our team to win a hockey game."

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 8:21 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Penguins juggle forward lines for Game 3

BOSTON – Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma juggled his forward lines for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS) at TD Garden.

Forward Jussi Jokinen was scratched and rookie Beau Bennett re-entered the lineup after a three-game absence. It was Bennett’s second game since May 5, when the Penguins played Game 3 of their first-round series against the New York Islanders.


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Posted On Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 4:43 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Penguins' character to be tested in Game 3

BOSTON -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have not been in this situation in years.

No, not the situation where they find themselves down 0-2 to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final heading into Game 3 on the road Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). The Penguins were in this very predicament in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs just last season, and it didn't turn out very well; they dropped Game 3 in Philadelphia to the Flyers 8-3 before going on to lose the series in six games.

Rather, it is the Eastern Conference Final itself that has been a foreign place for the Penguins since they last won the Stanley Cup in 2009, and their ability to remain in this series will be on the line Wednesday.

Though it is far from ideal, it is a test of character that is somewhat welcomed by the Penguins.

"You don't plan to be in this situation," Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said, "but you definitely see what you're made of in these types of scenarios."

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 12:22 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Rask none the worse for wear after ding in practice

BOSTON -- Everyone took the ice Wednesday for the Boston Bruins' morning skate, which featured one minor scare.

During one drill, goaltender Tuukka Rask took a teammate's shot off his shoulder, and he reacted by skating toward the bench and slamming his stick against the TD Garden boards. It took less than a minute for Rask to return to his crease and get back to work.

Julien said after the skate there were no issues in terms of Rask getting the start in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

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Posted On Tuesday, 06.04.2013 / 3:38 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins surging since Game 7 vs. Maple Leafs

BEDFORD, Mass. -- It still runs the risk of becoming the Boston Bruins' version of Carlton Fisk's extra-inning home run for the Boston Red Sox in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series or the Boston Celtics' comeback from 21 points down in the 2002 conference finals.

Both of those great Boston postseason sports accomplishments of the past ultimately failed to pay off in a championship.

So as we wait to see how the Bruins' run through the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs ends, their comeback after trailing the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 in the third period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on May 13 can only be classified as the wake-up call that sparked the Bruins to a deep postseason run.

The Bruins' improved quality of play from that night has continued forward into the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Including their wins in the first two games of this series, the Bruins have won seven of eight games and outscored their opponents 29-11 since they were behind the Maple Leafs 4-1.

Game 3 is Wednesday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"It seems like it. It seems like we have to have a bad experience in order to get going," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said after the team arrived at Hanscom Field from Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning. "Like two years ago (when the Bruins rallied from two games down against Montreal), we came out on top again. Once that happens, it seems like everybody starts playing better and rolling, and the whole team starts to fire."

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Posted On Tuesday, 06.04.2013 / 3:11 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins able to manage ice time of top defensemen

BEDFORD, Mass. -- One of the perks of winning the first two games of the Eastern Conference Final comfortably has been the opportunity for the Boston Bruins to limit the ice time of their top defensemen.

After Zdeno Chara averaged more than 29 minutes per game in the first two rounds, the Bruins stalwart has averaged 25 minutes of ice time against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Dennis Seidenberg, Chara's usual partner, hasn't had to log more than 24:38 in this series, right around the amount of time he averaged through six games in the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs before he was injured.

A rested corps of defensemen not only has the energy during a game to slow down the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla, but should also have more in the tank later in the series if things get tougher or if overtime is necessary.

Game 3 is Wednesday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"It definitely helps. If you have everybody going, you can do that. So not having to play too many minutes keeps you fresh and ready to go for the following games," Seidenberg said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 06.04.2013 / 2:56 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Lineup changes coming for Penguins in Game 3

PITTSBURGH -- After the Pittsburgh Penguins were outscored, 9-1, by the Boston Bruins in losing the first two games of Eastern Conference Final at home, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma wasn't going to stand pat when it comes to personnel.

"There's going to be some changes to our lineup and some of our [line combinations]," Bylsma said after practice Tuesday at Consol Energy Center.

A virtual must-win Game 3 is Wednesday at TD Garden in Boston (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"We have to, as a group and as lines and as D pairings, get back to playing our game," Bylsma said. "We have to get back to playing good defensive hockey, we have to get back to playing well away from the puck -- and that's got to happen throughout our lineup. And I think you'll see some changes in our lines and a few guys being added to the lineup to do so."

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Posted On Monday, 06.03.2013 / 3:18 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins aware of opportunity in front of them

PITTSBURGH -- It would be easy for the Boston Bruins to say they have already accomplished what they came to Pittsburgh to do, and that is why coach Claude Julien wants to make sure his players see Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final as an opportunity that should not be squandered.

After an impressive 3-0 win in Game 1, the Bruins have a chance to head back home up 2-0 in the series if they manage to win Game 2 on Monday night (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"It's hard to win games in the playoffs, it gets harder as you move forward," Julien said. "So every time you get a chance you have to make the most of it and don't waste that opportunity by saying at least we won one out of two. You have to go out there every game and challenge and want to win that game, because nothing guarantees you those home wins. And I think Pittsburgh knows that."

The Bruins are hoping they figured something out in the second intermission of Saturday's game that can carry over to Game 2. The Bruins were outshot 22-17 and gave up a number of high quality scoring chances to the Penguins over the first two periods of Game 1, but they largely carried the play in the third period to not only protect a 1-0 lead, but build on it with two goals.


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Posted On Monday, 06.03.2013 / 2:48 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Ference's return brings stability to Bruins' top-four

PITTSBURGH -- Defenseman Andrew Ference's presence in the Boston Bruins lineup for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final was akin to a child reaching for a favorite blanket -- it created comfort.

The Bruins' top-four on defense of Zdeno Chara with Dennis Seidenberg and Ference with Johnny Boychuk has remained intact over the last three years, including Boston's Stanley Cup win in 2011. That familiarity is especially important when facing a team with two dangerous top lines like the Pittsburgh Penguins have, and it should serve the Bruins well again in Game 2 on Monday night (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"It's just that we've played together for a while and it's just being comfortable with each other," Boychuk said Monday. "Not that I'm not comfortable with Matt [Bartkowski], because we played well together as well. But we've played together, me and [Ference], for the last three or four playoffs, so we kind of know what to expect from each other."

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Posted On Monday, 06.03.2013 / 1:04 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Penguins show no signs of panic, lineup changes

PITTSBURGH -- Throughout the Pittsburgh Penguins' dressing room, a common theme was repeated: Stay the course, play the way we did over the first two periods of Game 1, things will be OK.

Be it a subtle message to his players along those lines or a simple evaluation leading to the same result, coach Dan Bylsma appears to agree when it comes to the personnel.

Judging by the line combinations and defense pairings during the morning skate, Pittsburgh will go with the same lineup it used for Saturday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final when it takes the ice for Game 2 against the Boston Bruins 8 p.m. Monday at Consol Energy Center.

"I don't think our mindset changes; I think we want more of the same," veteran forward Craig Adams said. "There's just some things we can do better, and we'll try to do those better."


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Posted On Monday, 06.03.2013 / 12:14 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Vokoun remains Penguins starter for Game 2

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was asked if he had given any thought to making a goalie change heading into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final.

"I watch the NHL Network, so I've heard it talked about," Bylsma said. "So yes."

When pressed further on if he'd considered going back to erstwhile starter Marc-Andre Fleury after starting Tomas Vokoun for the previous eight games, Bylsma said, "I heard people talk about it on the NHL Network, so it did cross my mind."

Other than listening to commentators on television, though, not nearly enough to make a switch.


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Posted On Sunday, 06.02.2013 / 5:49 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

B's faceoff dominance leaves Pens seeking answers

PITTSBURGH – Prior to the start of the Eastern Conference Final, it was no secret the Boston Bruins held a decided edge over the Pittsburgh Penguins in winning faceoffs.

It just wasn't clear how dramatic that edge would be.

The Bruins as a team won 32 of 48 faceoffs in Game 1 Saturday night, including 22 of 30 at even strength, giving them an opportunity to start with the puck two thirds of the time.

The Penguins have not been a great faceoff team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, sitting at 48.2 percent, but the dominance in other areas of their game allowed them to perhaps sweep that weakness under the rug.

Now, facing a series deficit for the first time this postseason, this one wart in Pittsburgh's game is a bit more exposed and it's something the Penguins want to improve on for Game 2 Monday night (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

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Posted On Sunday, 06.02.2013 / 4:26 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bylsma not losing faith in Vokoun after Game 1 loss

PITTSBURGH -- When Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma made a switch of goalies early in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he did it with no preconceived notions on how long it would last.

It's been 25 days so far.

And just because Tomas Vokoun finally lost his second game -- his first while allowing more than two goals -- it doesn't mean Bylsma is prepared to turn back to erstwhile starter Marc-Andre Fleury, who lost his spot after Game 4 of the first round against the New York Islanders.

"We don't get this win, (but) the win and the loss isn't necessarily an indicator of what we're going to do with the goaltending situation," Bylsma said early Sunday afternoon, about 14 hours after the Penguins lost, 3-0, to the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.

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Posted On Sunday, 06.02.2013 / 12:49 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Ference solid in return to Bruins' lineup

PITTSBURGH -- Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference wasn't sure he was ready to join the Eastern Conference Final after being idled three weeks with an injury.

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.


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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 8:20 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Ference in Bruins lineup for Game 1

PITTSBURGH -- Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference is in the Game 1 lineup for the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After taking part in the pregame warmups Saturday, Ference was inserted into the lineup by Boston coach Claude Julien, who scratched young defenseman Matt Bartkowski, who is from the Pittsburgh area.

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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 1:25 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins enjoy advantage in faceoff circle

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.

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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 12:12 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Penguins stick with same lineup for Game 1

PITTSBURGH -- If it isn't broken, coach Dan Bylsma and the Pittsburgh Penguins see no reason to fix it.

Over the past week as the team practiced for the beginning of the Eastern Conference Final, several players said the Penguins peaked at the end of their series victory against the Ottawa Senators. Through five practices and a morning skate in advance of Game 1 against the Boston Bruins on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS), Pittsburgh kept its line combinations and defense pairings stable.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they appear identical to what Bylsma utilized in Pittsburgh's 6-2 victory in Game 5 against Ottawa, the most recent game the Penguins have played. Other than veteran forward Brenden Morrow subbing in for rookie Beau Bennett after Game 4 of that series, Pittsburgh largely has kept its lineup and line combinations the same after a period of flux earlier in the postseason.

Against the best faceoff team in the NHL, forward Jussi Jokinen likely will be counted on to win critical draws. Another player who was a healthy scratch when the playoffs began, wing Tyler Kennedy has earned a regular spot back in his customary third-line role. Bennett, Tanner Glass and Joe Vitale appear to be the odd forwards out.

Veteran defenseman Mark Eaton was scratched for four consecutive games earlier in the Stanley Cup Playoffs but has re-established himself as a stalwart in the lineup. Deryk Engelland and rookie Simon Despres are other future options.

Here are the Penguins' projected lines for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final:

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 6:24 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins aren't worried about long layoff

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).

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 5:45 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins coach Julien waiting to reveal Game 1 lineup

PITTSBURGH -- When it comes to the Boston Bruins' Game 1 lineup, coach Claude Julien isn't going to reveal anything until game time Saturday (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."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 3:48 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Cooke unconcerned about reception from Boston fans

PITTSBURGH -- It's been almost 39 months since Matt Cooke's brutal hit left Marc Savard with concussion symptoms that have yet to fully dissipate.

Cooke had a short answer when asked if the incident -- and resulting ire he's gotten from the Boston Bruins and their fans -- crossed his mind at all when it became apparent Cooke's Pittsburgh Penguins were going to play Boston in the Eastern Conference Final.

"No."

For Cooke, it's the second consecutive Stanley Cup Playoffs series against a team -- and fan base -- that has expressed public indignation toward him. The forward's skate severed the Achilles tendon of Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson in February, and the teams faced each other in the conference semifinals.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 3:19 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins need Rask to continue being their hot hand

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins have had the luxury of a hot hand in net through two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Keeping goaltender Tuukka Rask ready to go with so much time off before the start of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday can be a bit of a challenge. But the Finnish phenom is adjusting to the week's rest so far.

"It's more, it's kind of weird, because [sometimes] you finish up a series and you think you're going to have three days off and you don't. You're still emotional and ready to play," Rask said after Bruins practice at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday. "But then you get three days off, four days off, you kind of just feel like it's training camp, we're just practicing here. But it obviously isn't.

"I think it's just a mental challenge to know how to relax, but still keep yourself focused and knowing the series will start soon and you have to be ready to go. It's definitely been a different week."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 3:04 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Jokinen mindful of Bruins' proficiency on faceoffs

PITTSBURGH -- Jussi Jokinen took a moment early Thursday afternoon to accuse many of the Boston Bruins of cheating.

That's OK. He admires them for it -- and takes pride in himself for being able to cheat too.

Boston leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs in faceoff percentage, having won 57.5 percent of its draws heading into the Eastern Conference Final, which begins 8 p.m. Saturday at Consol Energy Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

Jokinen is Pittsburgh's best faceoff man at 63.9 percent in the postseason. He has appeared in six of the Penguins' 11 playoff games; of players who have taken at least 92 faceoffs this postseason, the Bruins have the top three players in the NHL.

Patrice Bergeron is winning 63.5 percent of his faceoffs, Chris Kelly 63.4 percent and Rich Peverley 63.0.

Talking with a smile and in a tone that was nothing but respect, Jokinen offered why those three are so successful.

"Lots of times, whoever's best on the faceoffs is whoever finds a way to cheat," Jokinen said. "Who cheats the most so they don't get thrown out.

"It's such a fine line finding out how much you can cheat -- some linesmen let you cheat a little more than others, and Bergeron is one of those guys who does that stuff pretty good and the linesmen let him do that stuff."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 1:02 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins work on some basics during light practice

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- After two days off and two hard days on the ice, the Boston Bruins went through a lighter practice Thursday at Ristuccia Arena.

It’s been a challenge for the coaching staff to fill in all these days since the Bruins beat the New York Rangers last Saturday until the Eastern Conference Final starts this Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Practice on Thursday was part of dialing things down before the intensity picks up again Saturday.

"That's what we did today. We just did a couple drills and then we just wanted to work our power play today and penalty kill. So basically the bulk of the practice was 20 minutes," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 5:26 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

With schedule released, Penguins gear up again

PITTSBURGH -- Douglas Murray doesn't input his week's plan into a Blackberry, and he doesn't plot out a training schedule with a pad and pencil.

Still, the hulking Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman said he prefers to look ahead when settling into a routine.

Finally, Murray and the Penguins know what's coming when.

The NHL released the schedule for the Eastern Conference Finals late Tuesday night, ending a four-day period in which the Penguins were in limbo. Pittsburgh, which eliminated the Ottawa Senators with a Game 5 conference semifinal victory Friday, opens the series with the Boston Bruins on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Consol Energy Center (NBC, CBC, RDS).

"You always want to know the schedule, for sure," Murray said. "You base your everyday decisions on it. It's not like I write up a schedule or anything, but when you've done this for as long as you have, you learn to manage your time. You know when it feels best for your body to get that extra massage that you might want or when it's time to rest and time to make sure you don't lay around all day.

"People change their routines once they know the schedule, and I think it's good we know now."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 3:01 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bartkowski looking forward to facing hometown team

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien is not worried about defenseman Matt Bartkowski collapsing under the pressure of facing his hometown team in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Bartkowski, who grew up in Mount Lebanon, Pa., loved the Pittsburgh Penguins as a kid. Now he might get to face the Penguins in the Stanley Cup semifinals starting Saturday.

"He seems pretty excited. He's looking forward to it," Julien said after practice at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday. "I think at the end of the day he knows who he's playing for and he wants to do well for his team. And the better he does, the better he looks in everybody's eyes, whether it's his hometown that's rooting for the other team or whether it's us. So I don't see an issue with that. I think if anything it's a positive, it's exciting, and you know for sure that he's going to be ready to play."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 2:49 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins considering multiple options on defense

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- There are so many variables affecting what the Boston Bruins' defense corps will look like when the Eastern Conference Finals begin Saturday night.

If everyone is healthy, the Bruins could try to defend the Pittsburgh Penguins with the same top four defensemen who won the Stanley Cup in 2011: Zdeno Chara paired with Dennis Seidenberg, and Andrew Ference coupled with Johnny Boychuk.

Rookie Matt Bartkowski could be in the mix to play top-four minutes, and Chara and Seidenberg could be split up. With so many days to prepare before facing the Penguins, the Bruins are trying out different scenarios. One drill at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday featured everyone rotating in and playing with different partners every shift.

Anything is possible prior to Game 1, and coach Claude Julien told the media he hasn't ruled out any and every defensive combination

"It's good, because you saw us during the season, we mixed and matched. And you guys kept asking a lot of questions about that and I said, 'You know what? It's important that we do that because at some point they’re all going to have to play with each other,'" Julien said. "And guys can play right that are left shots, or vice versa. And even during the game we still mix and match pairs sometimes. It's not necessarily set pairs that you see on the ice all the time. So that's not going to change."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 2:05 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Seidenberg taking extra time to continue healing up

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The decision to sit out Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers and not try to help the Boston Bruins complete a sweep last Thursday was difficult for Dennis Seidenberg.

But the veteran defenseman, who returned in time to aid Boston in its ousting of the Rangers in Game 5 Saturday, knows it was the right decision to rest his undisclosed injury another couple days rather than rink further damage.

"I wanted to play Game 4, obviously, but we talked to the coaching staff and the medical staff and we decided together that maybe it was best to hold out one more game and give it a couple more days. I think it was the right decision and, I mean, it was right at the end," Seidenberg said after he took part in an hour-long practice at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 2:00 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Ference practicing with Bruins, but status uncertain

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference practiced with his teammates Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.

The veteran has been out of game action since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 5. He missed all of the conference semifinals against the New York Rangers and only just recently started skating with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides.

As for Ference's availability in the upcoming Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the blueliner's status is up in the air.

"It's a good sign that he's practicing with us," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team followed two days off with an hour-long practice. "I don't know, it's a medical issue that unless the trainers say it's a go -- and sometimes he may be ready but could be risky kind of ready -- I've got to wait and see what the trainers see and also how Andrew feels as well before I make a decision on him."

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Posted On Monday, 05.27.2013 / 5:00 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Penguins looking to use time off wisely

PITTSBURGH -- Prior to this season, it had been five years since Brenden Morrow experienced the thrill of playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Now that he is forced to wait up to a week between games, you'll have to forgive Morrow if he's feeling a little anxious.

"The engine's kind of idling right now," the Pittsburgh Penguins forward said on the third of what is expected to be five or six days before the team opens the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins. "It's tough to shut it down this time of year. The games are coming fast and furious. So to sit and wait is tough for us. I guess it gives an opportunity for some little bumps and bruises to heal up. But I think everyone in the locker room's excited and ready to get started."

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Posted On Monday, 05.27.2013 / 3:43 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Penguins not buying Lucic's Heat comparison

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh?

Milan Lucic thinks so.

To that, Crosby says thank you very much.

Lucic, the Boston Bruins power forward, told reporters this weekend he views the Pittsburgh Penguins as the equivalent of the NBA's Miami Heat.

Led by James, Wade and Bosh, the Heat are two wins away from their third consecutive Eastern Conference title and can play for their second straight NBA championship after that.

"We appreciate the compliment," Crosby said. "I'm sure he won't have too many once we start playing. I think it's a compliment."

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Posted On Monday, 05.27.2013 / 12:07 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins' Ference skating, working his way back

BOSTON -- While most of the Boston Bruins players were kept off the ice Monday, two days after their series-clinching win against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, injured defenseman Andrew Ference skated with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides at TD Garden.

Ference has not played since Game 5 of the first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bruins coach Claude Julien said Ference has been skating for a few days.

"He's obviously on the mend, but not ready to say he's ready to go yet," Julien said during a press conference Monday.

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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 1:41 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Rask's play positions him for big new contract

BOSTON – For the first time in Tuukka Rask's NHL career, the goaltender has taken the Boston Bruins past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Of course, this is the second season in which Rask has served as the Bruins' No. 1 goalie.

Rask, 26, seems to be getting better as the playoffs roll along, opposed to the way he struggled deeper into the postseason back in 2010. In the five-game series victory against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Rask compiled a .936 save percentage and 1.86 goals-against average.

The Finnish goaltender seemed to place a smart bet on himself last summer when he signed a one-year contract with Boston. He’ll be a restricted free agent again this summer, seemingly raising his value every night this postseason.

General manager Peter Chiarelli, whose team will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals, said he has no regrets about letting Rask play on a one-year deal.

"I'm happy for him that he's playing well and he's helping the team," Chiarelli said during a press conference Sunday at TD Garden. "It’s always easier to sign these guys after success. He's showing some resiliency, which I like, and some durability, which I like."

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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 1:26 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Chiarelli encouraged by Bruins' improving health

BOSTON – The return from injury of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Saturday left the Boston Bruins with Andrew Ference and Wade Redden among their injured players heading into the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

General manager Peter Chiarelli described his team's overall health as "pretty good" during a press conference Sunday at TD Garden. And by the time the Bruins start the series, they might be even healthier.

"We’ve got Andrew out, he's making progress. Wade is close, if not ready," Chiarelli said. "Just the bumps and bruises are minor. We got Dennis back. We're in pretty good shape right now, knock on wood."

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Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie