Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Preview

Tomorrow the National Hockey League’s Final Four kicks off with the Eastern Conference matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins.

Its two vastly different team styles looking for their second Stanley Cup since the full season lockout.  The Pittsburgh Penguins play an offensive, high tempo game.  Their roster is full of former and future team captains – and they let their skill show through.  The downfall of the Pittsburgh Penguins in past series has been the fact that they don’t like to play a physical series.

The New York Islanders gave the Pittsburgh Penguins fits because they played an in your face style against the Penguins.  Pittsburgh will struggle against the Boston Bruins, because the Bruins play a very aggressive style of play.

Pittsburgh will need to overwhelm the Bruins offensively in the same way they played a shock and awe campaign in the final games of the Ottawa series.

Puck control is going to dictate this series, and the Boston Bruins are good at playing that game.  If they can take the speed away from the Penguins and dictate control play like they did against the New York Rangers – Boston could earn a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Both teams want to play their game, and don’t really have the pieces to stack up against one another to play the other teams game – so it should be interesting to see who grabs the momentum out of game one and carries it.

One thing about the Boston Bruins – is they have the players that can take control of a series and carry the team.  Only problem is they don’t always show up for complete games – its frustrating for fans and players alike.  I had this conversation with a Bruins fan.  Milan Lucic has the ability and size to dictate and control games. However, he only throws that switch when the Bruins have been in danger lately – and against the Penguins – throwing that switch on to late could prove costly.

The Boston Bruins have Zdeno Chara, who according to Pierre McGuire can eliminate a star player in a series – but who do you match him up against when it comes to the Pittsburgh Penguins?  Sydney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin?  Don’t forget Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, or Jarome Iginla.

I can’t root for the Boston Bruins in this series on principle.  I just hate the Bruins too much.  Much more than I hate the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I hate the Penguins for who they are, and what they have done.  In the salary cap era of hockey – they have been able to put together a team of star players and great role players that just seem to win hockey games all the time.  I merely hate the Bruins for what they are – the Boston Bruins.

They can be beaten though, and the Buffalo Sabres proved that this year, stopping winning streaks twice against the Penguins this year.  Buffalo also found success at times against the Bruins this year.

It’s a series that can go seven games – and probably will.

Game 1 @ Pittsburgh Sat June 1, 8PM
Game 2 @ Pittsburgh Mon June 3, 8PM
Game 3 @ Boston Wed June 5, 8PM
Game 4 @ Boston Fri June 7, 8PM
Game 5 @ Pittsburgh Sun June 9, 8PM*
Game 6 @ Boston Tue June 11, TBD*
Game 7 @ Pittsburgh Wed June 12, TBD*

*If necessary.

Tags: Boston Bruins Conference Finals NHL Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Playoffs

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