Do the Penguins still have an extra gear?

Penguins star Sidney Crosby is without a point in the Eastern Conference Finals thus far. (Getty Images)
Penguins star Sidney Crosby is without a point in the Eastern Conference Finals thus far. (Getty Images)

From a distance, the Pittsburgh Penguins look nearly unbeatable. They are a game of NHL ’13 come to life. Perhaps no other team in the NHL can match their collection of world-class talent with players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla, Kris Letang, etc. However, after watching the Penguins lose the first two games of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals at home to the Bruins (3-0 and 6-1), you start to see the numerous warts on Pittsburgh and the reasons why it lost in the first round the past two seasons and haven’t been this far since 2009.

Boston will never match Pittsburgh’s skill level but that doesn’t matter since the B’s have bought into an outstanding system that allows everyone to play a specific role. If the Penguins stars aren’t scoring goals, what exactly is their role? The Bruins have done a brilliant job exposing the Penguins main weaknesses in shaky defensemen, forwards that don’t want to play two ways and goaltenders that are easily rattled. It only took two periods in Game 1 to see how much Crosby and Malkin were out of their element as the former bumped Tuukka Rask and the latter fought Patrice Bergeron in a misguided attempt to fire up his team.

 The Pens have plenty of physical players, so they can employ that style to a point. But their numerous attempts to intimidate Boston have been laughable at best. The only statistic that the Penguins have a decided advantage in so far are hits: they’ve outhit the Bruins 71-38. Pittsburgh has been so focused on taking the body that their defensemen have taken themselves out of plays or even worse, coughed up the puck in key areas (20 giveaways this series to the Bruins’ 3) which has led to a bunch of goals for the B’s.

Everyone is waiting for Pittsburgh to change gears (or strategy) and to start racking up the goals. The problem is that the Bruins aren’t the Islanders, they aren’t the Senators, they have a gameplan, a dependable roster and they’re not intimidated one bit by the Penguins. This all means that Game 3 Wednesday (8 p.m., NBCSN) at TD Garden becomes the most important in the series since it’s a virtual must-win for Pittsburgh. Boston appears to firmly be in the Pens’ heads and most importantly, in control of the series. Of the last 16 teams to go up 2-0 in the NHL conference finals, all of them have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins will look to reverse that history by changing things up on the fly starting in Game 3.

Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

National

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

GAMES Hudson Common Open Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Hudson Common 356 W. 58 St. Free, www.hudsoncommonnyc.com The U.S. Open begins on Monday, but most of…

Movies

Review: Sadly, Matthew Weiner's 'Are You Here' is…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner tries his hand at movies with "Are You Here," a misjudged Owen Wilson-Zach Galifianakis comedy that turns into a drama.

Movies

Review: 'Love is Strange' is not only a…

John Lithgow and Alfred Molina tie the knot in "Love is Strange," but the film winds up being more about living with people than an activist picture.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…