I'm sure there are some out there -- Bruin haters, Penguin apologists and/or those who didn't watch any of the Eastern Conference Finals -- who will say that the reason the Bruins swept the Penguins is because the Penguins didn't play well. Certainly the Penguins contributed to their own demise but the Bruins are legitimately one of the best teams in the league...they just don't always play like it.
They were definitely clicking on all cylinders for the vast majority of these four games. Their defense completely and constantly swarmed the powerful Pens, taking them out of their comfort zone and soon exposed their entitlement mentality. They really felt they were going to just open fire and walk into the Cup Finals without actually playing hockey. What they encountered was a complete hockey team who plays a complete game.
Were there lucky bounces and non-calls? Of course, there always are. There were non-calls in both directions and more often than not you create lucky bounce opportunities. To me one of the biggest difference makers in this series was not just Tuukka Rask, who did stymie the Pens for the whole series; but it was Tuukka who stymied them in the early stages of the first game when the Pens came out free-wheeling and the Bruins (who are a very good offensive team) tried to play that style with them...successfully, I might add, since they had the lead. But Clode Julien settled them down, reminded them what kind of team they were; and from that point forward the Bruins tightened the screws down on the Penguins.
Just a few thoughts: Again, Tuukka was stellar...what more can you say about how well he played. He gave up TWO GOALS to the best offensive team in the league over four games. Tomas Vokun should get a lot of credit for the fact the Penguins weren't blown out in games 3 and 4 like they were in game 2. The Bruins swept the Pens without any stat sheet contribution from their most gifted offensive player, Tyler Seguin. Again, their defense was tremendous and the future looks bright with the play of Torie Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton. The Bruins organization has proven yet again you can win with depth, hard work and character over a handful of stars. Hard work, tenacity, hard work, tenacity -- I, at least, love that style of hockey. I couldn't be prouder of how this team played.
Look at what the Bruins did with their depth so far in these playoffs. They lost there 2nd, 3rd and 6th best defensemen and successfully played the second round with three rookies. When Campbell went down in game 3 of the Eastern Finals, they had Kaspars Daugavins, Karl Soderberg, another promising youngster in Jordan Caron and others to choose from to replace him. Daugavins almost scored the first goal of game 4.
I'm sure I'm overlooking some things (I obviously could single out the many individual contributions from Horton, Krecji, Marchand, Bergeron, Lucic, et al) but I am going to leave you with arguably the most indelible moment from this series, Gregory Campbell playing on a broken leg
I would be remiss to at least not mention how great a game we saw with the double OT game 3. Regardless of who won, that was an outstanding hockey game.
On to the Cup Finals, where I'll make no prediction other than to say if these Bruins show up there, look out.