Good evening everyone. Welcome back for the first time in what seems like a decade. Thanks to the East wrapping up early, the West taking forever, television, and NKOTB the Pens have not played in over a week. I didn't mind the break, as I needed a few days off from Fall Out Boy to avoid a psychotic break. When we last saw our heroes they were finishing off an Ottawa side that looked as outclassed as they made Montreal look in the first round. The Pens chased Craig Anderson twice and outscored Ottawa 22-12 and were approximately 30 seconds and one massive team brain fart from pulling off a sweep. The Pens haven't had a tough road so far, but it's not their fault that the #2 and #3 seeds decided to work on their golf games a little early. They also appear to close to full strength. The lengthy break has allowed Sid to ditch the Darth Malak mask he's been wearing in the post-season. If it's hampered him it all it hasn't showed much. One has to imagine the break helped Malkin (who has had a shoulder issue) and Kunitz (who was banged up at the end of the Ottawa series) get as close to healthy as they will get this time of year.
The next opponent is the Boston Bruins, the #4 seed in the East. They've actually followed a similar pattern to the Penguins this postseason, although they've done it in slightly less impressive fashion. Against Toronto, they steamrolled the Leafs in Game 1, then found themselves in a battle and probably would be out of the postseason if the refs had the guts to call a textbook boarding call late in the 3rd. In round two they brushed aside a Rangers team that looked atrocious. They'll present a more physical challenge than the last two opponents, and have Zdeno Chara on defense. Much like Ottawa, the Pens beat Boston all 3 times they met in the regular season. Unlike Ottawa, Boston was competitive in all 3 games. It's unlikely the Pens will find as much joy against Rask as they did against Anderson, but I also can't see Boston choking off the Pens offense as they were able to do against an inept Rangers attack. My biggest takeaway from the Bruins-Rangers series was how bad NY played. Toronto, for all their flaws, would at least skate and attack and were able to cause problems. The Rangers just wanted to go home. I'm going to assume the Pens would do what Toronto did.
There are a lot of great storylines going on with these teams- the Iginla trade, Jagr, that unpleasantness with Cam Neely in 1991- that have been beaten into the ground during the long layoff. It also should be a fun series. Both teams are built to exploit the holes in each other to some degree, and both should be tested in a way they weren't in the previous round. It also looks like the Pens will get Doc and Edzo on the broadcast with Pierre torturing us by proving he knows where every player played in juniors even though no one really cares.
The Pens are halfway to the Cup. As the cliche goes, each win is tougher to get than the last. The Pens seem to be getting stronger as this postseason rolls along. I'd like to get off to a good start here and start this series with a win rather than read about how everyone needs fired. Who's with me? Let's do it.