Scooping up some loose pucks while wishing NBC would mic up Brad Marchand just so we could hear him chirp every hilarious (and probably vulgar) word …
1. Who would have thought that the Bruins – who played brilliantly in their standard way and were blessed with some good fortune in Game 1 – would actually trump that performance in Game 2? I certainly didn’t, which is why I must publicly denounce myself as a nitwit prognosticator (again) for picking the Penguins to prevail on Monday’s edition of Boston Sports Live. The crystal ball apparently overrates Sidney Crosby, too. But man, what an encouraging game that was if you’re a Bruins fan. They so thoroughly dismantled the Penguins in Game 2, taking a lead on Brad Marchand’s goal 28 seconds in and countering every desperate Pittsburgh gasp en route to a 6-1 rout, that you have to ponder some pretty crazy possibilities. Is it possible the Penguins aren’t going to show up for this series at all? There’s too much talent there to believe so, and I’m sure as heck not predicting a Bruins sweep, but they sure do look like a colossal and possibly incurable mess as the series heads to Boston. They don’t have a goalie, the offense cheats at the expense of its defensive chores, and the defense has been exposed as undisciplined. Most damning of all, they’re too often floating, as NBC’s Ed Olczyk pointed out when Evgeni Malkin half-heartedly pursued Nathan Horton down the ice at one point in the second period: “Those plays can’t happen. Unless that changes, the score won’t.” And unless something – make that some things, starting with effort – changes with the Penguins, the tenor of the series won’t change, either.
2. While Tuukka Rask just keeps stopping everything the Penguins shoot his way — well, almost everything, since Brandon Sutter‘s first-period goal in Game 2 became the one shot in 56 attempts so far to elude the Bruins goalie – the Penguins’ situation in net is in utter disarray. After giving up three goals in the first 16:31 of Game 2, Tomas Vokoun was pulled for Marc-Andre Fleury, who promptly allowed a goal to Brad Marchand on the first shot he faced, then two more in the third period. At this point, it seems like the Penguins should go back to Vokoun for Game 3, with the rest of their goalie options lining up in this order: 1. Vokoun. 2. 48-year-old Tom Barrasso. 3. Former Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen. 4. Ron Tugnutt. 5. Fleury.
3. After Game 1, David Krejci was asked a question along the lines of whether he thought he was a superstar like Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. His answer was perfect – he essentially said no, we’re not superstars here but a true team. It was an appropriate sentiment, but I’m not sure I entirely believed him. Krejci has extraordinary confidence in his own ability, which occasionally surfaces in casual self-assessment that might sound cocky if it weren’t delivered so matter-of-factly. He knows he’s very, very good, that self-confidence is manifesting itself with another huge performance when the spotlight is brightest. You won’t see many prettier goals than the one Krejci scored to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead in the first period Monday night …
… and with 20 points he’s just three shy of his postseason-leading total from two years ago. He’s a great player. He knows it. It’s cool everyone else is finding out, too.
4. It really is amazing how thoroughly the Bruins’ first line has completely outperformed Pittsburgh’s stars. Krejci, Nathan Horton, and Milan Lucic have totaled 10 points already in the series, while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin remain scoreless. Lucic is clearing space in front of the net like a homicidal Zamboni; he’s been everything fans want him to be from the point in which there were roughly 10 minutes remaining in Game 7 against the Leafs. And like Krejci, Horton is elevating his game yet again in the playoffs – he has five points in this series after a goal and an assist in Game 2, and is now plus-19 for the playoffs and plus-32 for his playoff career. And to think he was labeled by the Panthers as someone with “no heartbeat” when they delivered him to the Bruins three seasons ago.
5. Regarding Crosby, who is leading this series in sniveling, poorly-sold collapses at the blue line and nothing else, I thought Tony Amonte had some compelling comments on Comcast SportsNet New England’s postgame show on why he has become such an unlikable player. Amonte, who retired six seasons ago after scoring 416 career goals (six more than Ray Bourque), is still plugged in around the league, and he’s become more candid on TV as he’s grown comfortable. “I don’t know. I don’t know what made it turn. But something turned with Sidney Crosby,” Amonte said. “The way he approached the game, the way he approached the fans. It doesn’t feel right to me. It doesn’t feel sincere. And that’s why I kind of turned on him. Hearing some different stories about him inside the locker room and the one thing that I kind of think I know is … the Conn Smythe. I think he is so jealous of Evgeni Malkin winning that trophy [as the playoff MVP] a few years ago. I’m telling you – he wants it all. He thinks he is an elite player, in the same conversation with Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Sakic and these guys, and to do that, you need to win a Conn Smythe, you have to have that on your resume if you want to be talked about the way those guys are. I think it eats him up that they won that Cup and he didn’t get the Conn Smythe.”