On Saturday the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers by a score of 3-1. The Bruins win means the NHL Eastern Conference Finals is now set.
The Bruins appearance in the Easter Conference Finals is the second in three years. Their last appearance was 2011, which was on their way to the winning the Stanley Cup. However, this year isn’t going to be as easy as their opponent is the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This matchup features two teams that are built completely different.
The Penguins features two of the league superstars in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The thing is both players missed significant amount of time due to injuries. However, the Penguins still managed to gain the first seed overall in the Eastern Conference with 72 points and led the league in goals per a game with an average of 3.38.
What it shows is that the Penguins are very talented offensively and very deep. However, don’t be fooled by their offensive talent as they are also very talented defensively.
The Penguins allowed on average 2.48 goals a game, which was 12th overall in the regular season. It would probably be even lower if Malkin and Crosby didn’t miss a lot of games.
The funny thing is the Bruins are built completely the opposite way of the Penguins.
The Bruins are a physical defensive team that likes to beat teams into submission. The bruins average 2.21 goals allowed per a game, which was third in the NHL. That means offensively this type of system affects offense, which averages 2.65 goals per a game, which is 13th in the NHL.
So who has the advantage?
Really the two teams are even offensive and defensively since they are built completely opposite of each other. However, the edge goes to the Penguins since they are a deeper team.
What is also going against the Bruins is the fact that they lost to the Penguins all three teams they faced them this year by scores were 3-2, 2-1 and 3-2.
One could argue that actually favors the Bruins. The reason being the playoffs are usually more defensive as referees let some call slide. Even though fans don’t like this referees still do it and are notorious for it.
A good example of this comes from NHL referee Paul Devorski who flat out said he hates the over the glass rule.
“I hate it,” Devorski told Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, via ProHockeyTalk.com. “Only because…we all knew when a guy was tired and he threw the puck over the glass. Now…a guy just tries to put it off the glass, and he’s got it a little too high, and sure as hell he gets a penalty. I don’t like calling it, but I don’t have any say in the matter.”
Devorski cannot do anything about it, because it’s pretty much an automatic call after all there is only one puck in hockey. So, soon after it goes over the glass plays stops and the player receives a penalty automatically.
As for the other penalties that is pretty much subject to a referee’s disposal. A player could commit a penalty right in front of the referee, and he could even be looking at it, but all the referee has to do to get out of trouble is say I was looking at the puck and missed it.
So, with the NHL Eastern Conference Final set I am going to predict that it will go seven games with the Penguins ultimately winning it due to their depth and talent.