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
News

Turkey: Voting begins in country's first direct presidential…

Some 53 million people are able to vote in the election, including 2.8 million citizens abroad. Until now, Turkish presidents were elected by parliament.

News

Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…

National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Television

'Game of Thrones' livens up Comic Con with…

By Piya Sinha-RoySAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Laughter and death did battle on Friday at HBO's "Game of Thrones" panel at Comic Con, one of the…

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Sports

Kevin Love becomes third NBA player to pull…

Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves became the third NBA player to withdraw from consideration for Team USA in next month's World Cup, USA Basketball.

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.