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Penguins vs Bruins

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Penguins vs Bruins - 2013 Eastern Conference Final

Bruins GM Chiarelli proud of group effort

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are heading to their second Stanley Cup Final in three years, and this time around they clinched the Eastern Conference title by defeating the supposedly superior Pittsburgh Penguins.

After all, it was widely accepted that Penguins general manager Ray Shero had won the trade-deadline derby by acquiring Douglas Murray, Brenden Morrow and, most controversially, Jarome Iginla, to supplement a lineup already featuring Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

Regardless of whose story you want to believe, the fact is Iginla waived his no-trade clause for Pittsburgh and not Boston because he wanted the best chance to win the Cup and to play with two of the best players in the world. Now Iginla's headed to the offseason, and Bruins will gun for a seventh Stanley Cup against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Given the opportunity to gloat, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, who quipped the Penguins were "a lock" after the Iginla episode, declined to rub Pittsburgh's face in Boston's four-game sweep of the Eastern Conference Final.

Five reasons Penguins were eliminated from playoffs

Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 12:40 PM / Penguins vs Bruins - 2013 Eastern Conference Final

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

There will be no fourth Stanley Cup added to the trophy case of the Pittsburgh Penguins -- at least not this season.

The four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final put an end to the Penguins' dream of another championship, which would have been the club's second in the past five seasons. Instead, 2009 remains the final glory year for a club that anticipated a run of excellence after defeating the Detroit Red Wings in that year's Stanley Cup Final.

Since then, the Penguins have won three playoff series, losing four others in a string of disappointments.

None of those ousters, however, will likely sting as much as this one. The Penguins were the top seed in the East and carved through their first two opponents with relative ease, winning six of seven games before meeting the Bruins.
"Our team is a team that considers itself a team capable of winning a Stanley Cup, put together to win a Stanley Cup," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "That's our expectation from Day One. That's how we build through the season. We certainly feel that we were a team that was capable of winning a Stanley Cup."

Pittsburgh's high-octane offense was firing on all cylinders, scoring a postseason-high 47 goals in the first two rounds. Their power play, laden with world-class offensive players, was lethal through the first 11 games, scoring 13 goals. Even its goaltending had been shored up by the performance of backup Tomas Vokoun, who played brilliantly during his seven-game run after relieving Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5 of the first round.

Then, in the blink of an eye, the dream was over, smothered by the impenetrable defense-first game plan of the fourth-seeded Bruins.

Pittsburgh scored two goals in the series, one of five teams in the history of the NHL to experience scoring futility at that level in a postseason series.

So what exactly happened to turn Pittsburgh's sweet Stanley Cup dreams into an unshakeable nightmare in the span of a week?

Here are five of the ingredients in this recipe for disaster:

Five reasons Bruins advanced to Stanley Cup Final

Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 10:59 AM / Penguins vs Bruins - 2013 Eastern Conference Final

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

The Boston Bruins are going back to the Stanley Cup Final because they have a system of play in which they believe implicitly. That faith is the bedrock to all that they do.

"It just shows what a team can do," defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said after the fourth-seeded Bruins completed an improbable sweep of the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final. "They have a lot of firepower, a lot of quality scorers over there. But if you play as a team, defend as one, I think you can do what we did in this series and that was just playing good defense, a lot of layers and play hard."

A similar formula already delivered the Bruins ultimate glory in the form of the Stanley Cup they won two seasons ago. In an unforgettable comeback victory against the Vancouver Canucks, Boston won four of the final five games.

Now they are back on hockey's biggest stage -- against the Chicago Blackhawks, who eliminated the defending champion Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night to win the Western Conference Final -- following a script that again features a dominating performance from its goaltender, a suffocating team defense anchored by tower of power Zdeno Chara, and a balanced and opportunistic offensive attack.

Penguins stars lament lack of production

Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 1:45 AM / Penguins vs Bruins - 2013 Eastern Conference Final

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

BOSTON -- Evgeni Malkin sat in his dressing room stall, dutifully answering the questions he was being asked -- even though he had no answers.

Evgeni Malkin
Center - PIT
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 16
SOG: 67 | +/-: -2

Malkin was just one of the array of offensive stars on the Pittsburgh Penguins who did not register a single point in a four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference Final at the hands of the Boston Bruins, one completed Friday night with a 1-0 loss at TD Garden.

Malkin, Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Jarome Iginla and Kris Letang combined for zero goals, zero assists and a collective minus-23 rating in the four games.

"We scored two goals in four games. It's not enough," Malkin said, his voice barely more audible than a whisper, in a dressing room wrought with sorrow. "It's my mistake. I scored zero goals."

The longest either Crosby or Malkin went without a point in the regular season was two games. Had one of them been able to maintain that streak and find a way to produce a goal in Game 3, a double-overtime 2-1 loss that essentially sealed the Penguins' fate, this could have been a different series.

But they didn't.

At 41, Jagr just happy to be back in Cup Final

Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 1:29 AM / Penguins vs Bruins - 2013 Eastern Conference Final

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

BOSTON -- While many of his teammates in the victorious dressing room donned the brand-new baseball hats proclaiming the Boston Bruins as Eastern Conference Champions, Jaromir Jagr wore a black-and-gold winter toque that listed each of Boston's previous Stanley Cup titles

Jaromir Jagr
Right Wing - BOS
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 7
SOG: 45 | +/-: 1

Maybe Jagr, a 41-year-old who often makes self-deprecating jokes about his advanced age, had caught a chill after the Bruins hung on for a 1-0 victory Friday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. More likely, he wanted to remind himself -- and everyone else -- that the Bruins have not accomplished anything yet.

"To get the chance to play for a Cup is great," Jagr said.

The Bruins will face the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final, starting with Game 1 at the United Center on Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

After waiting 21 years to return to the biggest stage Jagr's chosen profession can offer, having to wait a few more days isn't unbearable.

Bruins goalie Rask was 'difference in the series'

Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 1:14 AM / Penguins vs Bruins - 2013 Eastern Conference Final

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- When a Stanley Cup Playoff series ends, it opens the possibility for a coach to talk about an opposing player a little more glowingly than he normally would in the midst of a best-of-7 battle.

With the Pittsburgh Penguins swept out of the Eastern Conference Final by a 1-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Friday at TD Garden, coach Dan Bylsma was finally able to publicly marvel at the play of goaltender Tuukka Rask.

"There's no question that the performance he put in in this series was elite," said Bylsma, whose Penguins scored twice in four games. "He was the difference in the series, there is no question.

"It's not like we didn't have good opportunities and good scoring chances. We had good looks at the net. We had good opportunities, even in Game 1, had 12 scoring chances in the first period. He was the difference in that game (a 3-0 Boston win). We weren't able to get on the board, get a lead at any time in the series. Again, Game 3's performance, he was a 50-plus-save (53) performance, outstanding, spectacular in a lot of his saves. Again tonight he was up to the task. No question about this being his best performance."

McQuaid overcame a lot on way to game-winner

Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 12:55 AM / Penguins vs Bruins - 2013 Eastern Conference Final

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- Last month it was announced Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid was a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which goes to the player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey."

Adam McQuaid
Defense - BOS
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 3
SOG: 10 | +/-: 8

The other finalists announced were Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby.

Though the Masterton might be one of a couple trophies Crosby takes home later this month, he won't be playing for the Stanley Cup.

McQuaid, whose nomination easily could've been the highlight of his season, made sure of that, scoring the goal that put the Bruins into the Stanley Cup Final.

McQuaid, who scored one goal during the regular season, beat Pittsburgh goaltender Tomas Vokoun 5:01 into the third period in support of Tuukka Rask's 26-save shutout for a 1-0 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final at TD Garden on Friday.

High-powered Penguins go dry at worst possible time

Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 12:46 AM / Penguins vs Bruins - 2013 Eastern Conference Final

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

BOSTON -- The Pittsburgh Penguins gathered their embarrassment of offensive riches for one final shot at extending their 2012-13 season at least one more game, wanting just one more breath.

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun was on the bench with the Penguins facing a 1-0 deficit in the final minute of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins, needing just one goal to force overtime, to earn another chance at redemption after a series of frustration and misfires.

In many ways, that final, frantic minute of play was a microcosm of the entire series for the Penguins -- one that was filled with a number of golden scoring opportunities for the most potent offensive team in the NHL, and one that ended in disappointment.

"If you look back, the chances are there," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said after finishing the series with no points in four games. "I mean, you try to fight, you try to get through to the net and get rebounds and sometimes they come to you and sometimes they don't.

"Obviously you score two goals as a team in four games, and personally to go without any points it doesn't sit very well."

Daugavins replaces Campbell for Bruins in Game 4

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

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 a 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday, 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 is being filled by Kaspars Daugavins in Game 4 of the conference final Friday at TD Garden (NBCSN, CBC, RDS). But filling Campbell's role on the team will be done by committee.

Marchand's nasty streak translates into success

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

Brad Marchand
Left Wing - BOS
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 12
SOG: 44 | +/-: 6

BOSTON -- For much of Brad Marchand's young NHL career, he has been at his best when he’s seemingly everywhere on the ice regardless of what’s going on in the game, whether play is still going or the whistle has been blown.

So there was the Boston Bruins left wing continuing to practice his mantra early in the third period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. It saw Marchand earn matching minor penalties with Chris Kunitz for an exchange involving a kneeing attempt by Marchand and a slash by his Penguins counterpart.

Then there was Marchand again skating down the left wing knowing his center of three seasons, Patrice Bergeron, would drive to the net. When Marchand found Bergeron for the game-winning goal in double overtime, the Bruins earned a 2-1 victory and a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series, which they’ll take into Game 4 Friday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

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