It seems like three months now that we’ve been waiting with much anticipation for the Bruins-Penguins 2013 Eastern Conference Finals series to begin.
It’s a joy to say that the fun finally gets underway Saturday night (8 p.m., NBC) at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh for Game 1. After that, things will get back into the familiar playoff rhythm with Game 2 on Monday (8 p.m., NBCSN) in Pittsburgh before Game 3 (8 p.m., NBCSN) Wednesday and Game 4 next Friday (8 p.m., NBCSN) at TD Garden. Game 6 and 7 would be on back-to-back nights (June 11 and 12).
These teams haven’t met in the postseason since the Wales (now Eastern) Conference Finals in 1992 so it’s been a while, even if Jaromir Jagr (4 assists in this year’s postseason) is still playing - albeit on the other side now. The great footnote to the NHL’s final four in 2013 is that the Kings (2012), Blackhawks (2010), Bruins (2011) and Penguins (2009) are the last four Stanley Cup winners.
Regular season results certainly don’t mean anything once the playoffs roll around but it’s hard not to mention that the Penguins were 3-0 against the Bruins in 2013. Granted, each game was decided by one goal and two of them were in Pittsburgh. Both teams enter with roughly the same wear and tear: the Penguins went six games with the Islanders in the first round before cruising past Ottawa in five games; the Bruins had to go to overtime in seven games to get past Toronto before they buried the Rangers in five. Pittsburgh’s series with the Senators ended one day before Boston’s with the Rangers so there is seemingly no advantage in terms of rest (or rust).
When you look at the NHL playoff leaders in the most important offensive statistics, they’re dominated by Bruins and Penguins. David Krejci (5 goals, 12 assists) leads in points, Sidney Crosby (7 goals, 8 assists) is tied for the goal-scoring lead with teammate Pascal Dupuis (7 goals, 3 assists) and Chicago’s Patrick Sharp (7 goals, 4 assists), Kris Letang leads in assists (3 goals, 13 assists) and Nathan Horton (5 goals, 7 assists) has the best plus/minus at plus-14. Throw in Evgeni Malkin (4 goals, 12 assists) and Pittsburgh and Boston possess the top five scorers in the postseason which means one can expect a series dominated by offense. That is, unless, Tuukka Rask and/or Pittsburgh’s goaltending duo of Tomas Vokoun and Marc-Andre Fleury were to get hot.
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Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate