In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals the Pittsburgh Penguins tried to play the Bruins game, a move that didn’t work out very well for the Eastern Conference’s number one seed. The Pens showed up to Game 1 and played a physical game, something they’re not known for.
Things really got going from a physical standpoint in the second period as Matt Cooke was handed a game misconduct for a hit from behind on Bruins defensemen Adam McQuaid. Later in the contest Brad Marchand was given a minor penalty for boarding Penguins forward James Neal.
“I don’t think it was a rough hit,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said regarding Cooke’s hit. “I’m not sure I thought it warranted a five-minute penalty.”
Although still dangerous, and worth the two-minutes, Marchand’s hit wasn’t as bad as Cooke’s, but Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby feels differently.
“I don’t see the difference, really” said Crosby. “It’s tough they’re letting a lot go out there, and the more it gets like that, the more it’s going to escalate. You can only control and channel that stuff so much. You keep letting guys do that stuff; you’re just going to push the envelope. That’s something we obviously want to stay away from, but it’s kind of a natural thing when it gets like that.”
Speaking of Crosby, the star forward wasn’t shy about getting in the faces of certain Bruins as Crosby exchanged shoves and words with Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara and even goalie Tuukka Rask.
As the buzzer sounded after the second period, Crosby and Rask skated by each other, exchanged words and a quick little love tap with their sticks. After the game Rask was asked what Crosby said to him.
“Just great job” said Rask who let out a bit of a smile after trying to hold a straight face.
While Crosby was pumping Rask’s tires, a fight was breaking out between two unusual combatants as Patrice Bergeron and Evgeni Malkin were dropping the gloves. The two top forwards have a combined five career National Hockey League fights.
“I mean it’s the playoffs, right?” said a viably cut up Bergeron. “You know we know that the emotions are high, intensity is high and games are big. So I mean I don’t know if I am really surprised but at the same time it just happened.”
As much as the Penguins wanted to be and tried to be physical, seeing one of the best players in the game getting into a fight is not an easy thing for the Penguins to watch.
“Hopefully he doesn’t get hurt,” Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “That’s the first thing. He’s a pretty valuable guy to the team.”
The Penguins outhit the Bruins 34-19 in Game 1. The Penguins were led by Pascal Dupuis and Brenden Morrow who each had a game-high four hits.
At the end of the night Jarome Iginla and the Penguins know their emotions may have got the best of them in Game 1.
“We, myself included, probably got into a couple of scrums that we don’t need.”
If the Penguins are going to tie the series up at one game each tonight and avoid heading to Boston for Game 3 down two-games-to-none, the Penguins will need to remain calm and keep their emotions in check.
“That emotion, that compete level, has to be there. It has to be there from our best players,” Bylsma said. “Having said that, when you’re on a power play and your skill players, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin are going off the ice, it’s not a situation you want to be in. It’s not something that we want to do, and I think it took away from our game.”
The Penguins will look to get back to their style of play in Game 2 and shy away from the scrums and emotional stuff that haunted them Saturday night, that’s not what got the Penguins to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Bruins expect a better Penguins team Monday night.
“I expect them to be better” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “Anytime you lose a game in your own building you expect better next time.”
Expect a better Penguins team in Game 2, just not an overly physical one.
In case you missed it, here is Cooke's hit on McQuaid
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