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NHL East Finals Preview


It’s been relatively smooth skating for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins so far this postseason, but when the two teams collide in the Eastern Conference Finals starting Saturday, you better believe it will get tougher, grimier and uglier, no matter who comes out on top.

As the East’s number one seed, the Penguins obviously have the advantage. Pittsburgh will have home ice against a team they went 3-0 against in the regular season. Though the Pens only won each of those games by one goal, they showed they can handle the Bruins rough physical play.

Pittsburgh comes into this series having scored at least four goals in nine of their 11 postseason games and although this is a number that should drop a bit against the stout defense of the Bruins, there’s no question that the biggest challenge for Boston will be slowing the Pens down.

A big part of that will be limiting Sidney Crosby’s opportunities. Boston’s deep and experienced blue-line will certainly have their hands full and most of the burden might be laid on Zdeno Chara, the Bruins’ best defensive player. If he can slow Crosby down without finding himself in the penalty box, the Bruins will like their chances much better in a grind-it-out type of series.

Boston will have to exert its will against Pittsburgh, but at the same time, not allow many power play chances for the Pens. Pittsburgh has already scored 13 goals on the power play this postseason, so giving them a man advantage is basically like leaving an open net.

Despite the obvious disadvantages Boston has in the series, its defense is one of the best in the NHL and is the real reason it has made it this far. And in a long series, a defense can wear an opposing offense down. With Boston’s depth and experience, it should be able to stretch things out to six or seven games and then anything can happen.

The Bruins will certainly put up a good fight, but this is Pittsburgh’s fight to win. They’ve been the clear favorite in the Eastern Conference all season and now they are only four wins away from claiming the East title and advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. I think Boston will grind out a couple of wins against Pittsburgh and even keep things close in some highly-contested losses, but I like Pittsburgh to win the series in six games.

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