The Bruins are set to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Eastern Conference finals starting on Saturday night, so we asked Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Seth Rorabaugh for some insight about the Penguins.
Here are his answers to five key questions.
1. Who is the Penguins' unsung hero? Paul Martin. He has rebounded from a dreadful 2011-12 season to become part of the Penguins' top shutdown defensive pairing along with Brooks Orpik. Martin might not be as high profile as Kris Letang, but he might be just as important to the Penguins.
2. Which skater vs. skater matchup will be the biggest key to the series? Sidney Crosby vs. Patrice Bergeron. Crosby might be the NHL's most dangerous offensive player. Bergeron, the defending Selke Trophy winner, is fully capable of limiting Crosby's creative playmaking ability. If he can't, this will be a short series.
3. Do the Penguins have a weakness the Bruins can exploit? Yes. The Islanders were able to lure the Penguins into a few sloppy run-and-gun games during the quarterfinal round. The Penguins' defense was loose in those contests and allowed several quality scoring chances. If Bruins chose to open things up offensively, they appear to have the offensive weapons to take advantage of the Penguins' defense.
4. What is the most important thing the Penguins must do to win? Stay composed. The Penguins, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Kris Letang in particular, can lose their cool and take selfish retaliatory penalties from time to time. If someone like Brad Marchand can get under their skin it can create offensive chances for the Bruins via the power play.
5. Will the long layoff benefit or hinder the Penguins? Both teams could use some downtime but the layoff will benefit the Bruins more. Aside from a few bumps and bruises, the Penguins were a mostly healthy bunch coming out of the semifinal series against Ottawa. The Bruins' blue line was stretched thin against the Rangers. Having a week off will help the likes of Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg recover and prepare to deal with the Penguins' deep core of offensive forwards.