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Penguins' goaltending woes front and center against Bruins

Posted by Bruins Daily Staff  June 4, 2013 07:17 PM

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The Penguins' goaltending woes were front and center during their first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bruins. Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily.

If the Penguins' goaltending woes isn't reminiscent of the Flyers' wheel of goalies two years ago, then I don't know what is.

Much like the Penguins, the Flyers had their share of skill players heading into the second round of the 2011 series with the Bruins. But despite having the likes of Claude Giroux, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards (at the time), just to name a few, the goaltending carousel between Brian Boucher and current Columbus Blue Jacket Sergei Bobrovsky put the Broad Street Bullies in a bit of a hole. Boucher was pulled in each of his first three starts and Bobrovsky couldn't stop the bleeding as the Black and Gold swept the series one year after their historic collapse.

Two years later, the Bruins are facing the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla, each of whom haven't found the scoresheet in the first two games. But that's the least of the Penguins' concerns right now.

After giving up three goals in Game 2, Tomas Vokoun, who started in nine straight postseason contests, was pulled in favor of former No. 1 overall pick Marc-Andre Fleury, who hadn't started since Game 4 of the Islanders series. Fleury, who had given up 43 goals in his last 10 postseason starts prior to his relief appearance, continued to struggle giving up three goals in the Bruins' 6-1 shellacking Monday night at the Consol Energy Center.

Some of the goaltending woes could be attributed to the Bruins exposing the Penguins defense. But some of the goaltending issues could also be pointed to the less than stellar performances from Vokoun, who's known to be a streaky goalie, and Fleury, who's confidence still seems shaken after last year's first round series against Philly.

In any event, the Bruins, who are now two wins away from their second Stanley Cup Finals appearance in three years, have the Penguins right where they want them as the series shifts to the TD Garden for Game 3 Wednesday night.

"There's been a great commitment on the part of our team to play well defensively and have layers, take away some space from those guys and some room to pick up speed," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team outscored Pittsburgh 9-1 in the first two games of the series. "The guys have really bought into that, which has helped a lot. That's why I said, we've got to continue to do that."

Pittsburgh's goaltending problems are one of the examples of why the Bruins have caught the Penguins' tail between their legs.

The first two games were a perfect example of the Bruins executing Julien's system. Their defense in front of Tuukka Rask has been stellar, which in turn is creating a perfect transition game for David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Jaromir Jagr and the B's offense. Moreover, Zdeno Chara and company have gotten under the skin of Crosby, Malkin, Kris Letang, Matt Cooke and the rest of the Penguins.

The two games in Pittsburgh are arguably the best games the Bruins have played all postseason. But they know they need to be even better in front of another 17,565 on Causeway Street.

If that's the case then Fleury or Vokoun won't hear the end of it in The Hub of Hockey.

"This is the best hockey we've played so far this year," said Julien. "We've just got to keep that going."

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