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Five thoughts on Bruins-Penguins opener

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  June 1, 2013 08:28 PM

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A couple of thoughts on the Bruins' encouraging Game 1 victory while wondering if could Zdeno Chara's words could be heard over Sidney Crosby's high-pitched whining ...


1. Always get a kick out of David Krejci's "celebrations" after scoring a goal. He usually offers no more than a nod or maybe a slightly raised fist, as if he's saying, "Yep, I scored. Surprised? I'm not.'' Though he still doesn't get his due nationally, his knack for playing his best when the stakes are highest is no surprise around here. With two goals Saturday, Krejci now has 27 in 72 career playoff games -- his single-season best is 23 in 79 games. He was the leading scorer in the postseason two years ago, and he's tops again this time around, with 19 points. He's also plus-11, second only to linemate Nathan Horton (plus-17). I've said it before, and I'll say it again: He's the Rajon Rondo of the Bruins, bored by inferior competition and up to every challenge provided by a game with real meaning and consequences. If there's a more underrated great player in Boston right now than Krejci, give me a name, because I'm not finding one.

2. A lot of words have been spent discussing Matt Cooke's alleged reformation, and it should be noted that his five-minute major (and game misconduct) for his hit on Adam McQuaid Saturday night was his first penalty of that length or longer since his infamous hit on the Rangers' Ryan McDonagh in March 2011. I never bought it, and I suspect you, the Bruins, Eric Karlsson, Marc Savard are right there with me. Hell, I doubt even his Penguins teammates did. But past history and parochialism aside, he probably doesn't deserve to be suspended for the McQuaid hit -- the defenseman did leave himself vulnerable -- and I'm not sure there was any more malice in Cooke's intent than there was on Brad Marchand's similar shot on James Neal late in the second period.

Thumbnail image for malkinfinn61.JPG3. Evgeni Malkin looked on the verge of scoring a couple of times in the the opener, and even seemed to get the best of Patrice Bergeron in their unlikely rumble. He's terrifying. But that other Penguins superstar? Sidney Crosby was shockingly abysmal, managing four shots and losing 11 of 17 faceoffs, and at times he looked on the verge of taking his puck and going home. He has that LeBron-like manner of sniveling entitlement with the officials, as if rules are merely suggestions when they involve him. I have to give NBC credit for showing a montage of Crosby weaseldom before the third period, from his stick-tap of Tuukka Rask to a half-punch at Brad Marchand to his yapping with Chara. What a weird game for him. He was a nuisance in every way but the one that matters.

4. I wasn't surprised that Claude Julien turned to Andrew Ference rather than Matt Bartkowski in Game 1. Ference's defense-first mind-set has more value against the freewheeling Penguins than having a second offensive-minded defenseman in Bartkowski, who was not going to get the nod over Torey Krug at this point. But I was surprised that Ference was so effective immediately, particularly on the offensive end, where his aggressiveness in jumping in on the rush led directly to the Krejci's first goal.

5. Ultimately, that victory was pretty much straight from the blueprint, wasn't it? Rask was exceptional (29 saves, his first career playoff shutout), the first line excelled, the defense was disciplined and the checking relentless, and the Penguins grew increasingly frustrated by the Bruins' approach. I'm not sure going forward that we can expect everything to go quite so well -- the Penguins hit, what, three posts in Game 1? -- but at the very least we have confirmation that this is going to be a knock-down, drag-out series, and the Penguins advantage in pure talent may be their only advantage. It feels like Vancouver, June 2011 all over again to me. And I think we were all quite OK with how that played out.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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