The good news is the Penguins didn’t give the Bruins much in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, certainly not as much as the 3-0 final score might suggest.
“I don’t know how many we gave them,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby assessed regarding scoring chances afforded the Bruins by the Pens. “I would say less than 10,
“I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting them. We definitely made mistakes but (it’s) not something we’re too concerned about not being able to change. Those are things we can definitely adjust.”
The bad news is when the Penguins broke down they fell momentarily apart.
David Krejci’s game-opening goal and Nathan Horton’s rebound tally were both examples of Bruins forwards getting way too much time and way too much space after the Penguins lost defensive-zone coverage.
And that’s how the Bruins can sting the Penguins, as they did in Game 1.
Pens defenseman Brooks Orpik allowed that while the number of scoring chances surrendered didn’t seem to be a problem, “we probably weren’t too happy with the quality of chances we gave up.”
That’s the most significant change the Pens have to make for Game 2.
Although they were shutout and their power play went 0-for-4, the Penguins generated plenty of quality scoring chances.
It’s far from a stretch to suggest when Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla, Chris Kunitz and James Neal get similar chances as the series progresses they’ll bury
And if that happens the Pens will be able to get the Bruins off their game and out of the comfort zone they enjoyed throughout Game 1.
But the Bruins also established in Game 1 that they consider a 50-50 game their kind of game, one they’ll be willing to play for as long as it takes.
The Pens should have known that coming in.
If not, they certainly ought to be aware by now.
“They did a good job of staying patient,” Pens defenseman Matt Niskanen said of the Bruins. “Their team does that pretty well, that’s the way they play. They’ve played like that for a few years now, that’s exactly who they are.
“They’re really good defensively, they have good structure. They force you to make plays through traffic and they’re hard on you and they take away your space and they’re
opportunistic when they get their chances off the fore-check.”
The message from Game 1 should be that any scoring opportunities surrendered can potentially end up in the net.
The plan for Game 2 should be to fight patience with patience until the pucks start going in at the other end.