By: Mark Harriman, Senior Editor
BOSTON –(June 7) The Bruins finished off the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0 tonight over on Causeway Street to cap off a four game sweep that was unimaginable just seven days ago. And looking back on the Eastern Conference Final, the story lines abound. Here’s a sampling:
-A Tropical Storm and Hurricane. As the remnants of Andrea drenched the Boston area on a Friday night that turned into Saturday morning, the Penguins were soaked by a storm of their own, namely Hurricane Tuukka.
The Bruins goalie capped off a spectacular conference finals by tossing his second shutout of the series and the second of his career. The Pens never had a lead in the series –roll that one around your low pressure system for a minute.
The two goals the Bruins allowed set a new Boston club record for fewest goals allowed in a four game series, which bested the previous record of five goals set back in the 1930 Semifinal against the Montreal Maroons and tied in 1969 by Toronto in the Quarterfinals.
-His Mind Was On Other Things. Defenseman Adam McQuaid banged home Boston’s only goal in Game 4 just over five minutes into the third period with a slapper form the right point that beat Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun through the One Hole.
But back in December of last year, as the lockout was eventually winding down, McQuaid wasn’t thinking about playing hockey. He was trying to overcome the effects of serious blood clots and a ballooning infection, the results of which lead to the removal of a rib. But he persevered and five and a half months later he put his team into the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons after being named a finalist for the NHL’s Masterton Trophy in 2013.
-The Mother of All Ironies. At the trading deadline the Bruins added right winger Jarome Iginla in a trade with Calgary. Or so they thought. In a much publicized move, Pittsburgh swooped in at the last minute and Iginla agreed to a trade to the Penguins, leaving Boston in the lurch.
So how sweet was it for Bruins fans when the frantic closing seconds of Game 4 saw Iginla snap a last-ditched effort towards Rask, who came out of his goalie crouch and stabbed the puck with his glove in great emphasis just as the green lamp was lit? As they say in that commercial, “Priceless.”
Out With a Whimper. Conventional wisdom made the Penguins prohibitive favorites at the start of the series. And why not? Their vaunted offense was scoring goals at a frenetic pace, averaging more than four per game.
But a funny thing happened. Pittsburgh ran into Rask and the Bruins defense, who threw them off their game, all the while facing some buzzard luck with pucks careening off the pipes like a pinball off a newly rubberized flipper.
Rask stopped an ungodly 50+ shots in Game 3 and another 26 in Game 4.
But the biggest surprise of the series is that Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, a finalist for the Hart Trophy, Chris Letang, a finalist for the Norris Trophy, Evgeni Malkin and the aforementioned Mr. Iginla –the team’s top four scorers in the 2013 playoffs- did not have one point among them. Not one point. Amazing.
After story lines like these, the post-mortem in Pittsburgh could get pretty ugly.