What We Learned From Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals


Jun 1, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) and Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) fight at the end of the second period in game one of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As a huge fan of cinema – what most of the non-nerdy world would call “the movies” – I have always wondered what it must be like for a film critic to be assigned to review a movie that s/he absolutely despises.

Well, now I know!  Having to sit through Game 1 of last night’s NHL Eastern Conference Finals match-up that pitted the despised Boston Bruins against the despicable Pittsburgh Penguins was worse than visiting a dentist with poor depth perception, or watching The Human Centipede movies back-to-back.  I endured because of my unwavering commitment to you, hockey fans, so let’s see what we learned from game 1, aside from the fact that I want both teams to lose.

Last Year’s Meltdown Against the Philadelphia Flyers Was Not Out-of-Character For These Penguins

Watching this Penguins squad the last two years, this much has become obvious to me: the players on this team mistake cheap hits for physical play, and confuse acting like a bunch of punks for being playoff warriors.   Matt Cooke checking Adam McQuaid into the boards from behind?  Sidney Crosby elbowing Tuukka Rask at the end of a period?   Evgeni Malkin deciding to drop the gloves?   Yeah, you’re a bunch of tough guys, Pittsburgh.  These guys don’t like to be hit, and everyone in the league should make note of this: bump Pittsburgh, grind ’em, and hit them, and they will self-destruct, every single time.  They’re not mentally tough, and honestly, they remind me of a bunch of petulant kids on the playground when things are not going their way.  How their fans can stomach these playoff embarrassments are beyond me.

Tuukka Rask is Rewarding Boston’s Faith in Him

Jun 1, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) guards the net against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in game one of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Boston Bruins won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Seriously – raise your hand if, at the beginning of this season,  you would have felt confident that Boston could make the Eastern Conference Finals this year WITHOUT Tim Thomas on the roster?  Go away, Tuukka – you can’t vote for yourself!  And yet, Boston IS in the Eastern Conference finals, without their Conn Smythe Trophy-winning net minder, who is currently in hockey purgatory.  Give Rask credit – with the exception of his out-of-body experience in game 4 of the Bruins’ series against the New York Rangers, Rask has been a large part of Boston’s success, posting a 2.03 GAA (not spectacular, but solid) and a save percentage of .933.  Opening the Conference Finals with his first career playoff shutout against the high-octane Pittsburgh offense is sort of big deal, too, I suppose.  If he can frustrate the Penguins for another game or two, their fragile psyches should take care of the rest.

David Krejci is “na ohen”

That means “on fire” in Czech (at least, according to Google translate!), and if I’m lying, I’m dying.  His two goals last night give him seven for these playoffs, second-best in the NHL.  More impressive?  His 19 total points make him the playoff leader, 3 points better than Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.  Where would Boston be without Mr. Krejci today?  Home, waxing their sports cars, playing golf, or doing whatever hockey players do during their offseason.  I love the second goal he scored against Pittsburgh:

Krejci jumped on that loose puck, and didn’t give up until it was in the twine. He’s one of the hottest players in hockey right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pittsburgh target him a bit more in game 2.