Aaron Ward, former Bruins defenseman and now ace TSN analyst, made the point a week ago about the Bruins-Penguins series: “The biggest thing for me — and this is for both teams — is who has the ability to adjust? If Boston is doing something that works well, how does Pittsburgh adjust?”
Well, in Game 1 on Saturday, the Bruins did many things well en route to their 3-0 victory. And tonight in Game 2, we shall see how the Pens adjust.
The Bruins should be prepared to see a much sharper and smarter Pittsburgh club. The B’s pose a threat with which the Pens are not all that familiar or comfortable: a big, tough, gritty team, which also has a pretty fair dose of talent.
The way the Bruins play and the way the Penguins want to play are very much at odds with each other. The Pens either adjust or risk being upset.
“It’s the first time we’re trailing,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said yesterday. “When you look at the standings board in our room and they have one win and we don’t have any, it is a different look.
But we’ve lost games in this playoff. We look at what we need to do better, and where we did get things accomplished (in Game 1), and know we’ve got to rebound with our Game 2 performance.”
A few obvious areas in which the Penguins need to improve:
• Breakouts — On a team with Hall of Fame forwards, the defensemen are relatively average — the team’s Achilles’ heel, if it has one.
After a slow start on Saturday, the B’s forechecked better and better as Game 1 wore on, to the point that in the third period one forechecker was often able to disrupt Pittsburgh breakouts and send the puck back in deep.
“For us (it’s about) managing the puck a little better coming out of our end,” veteran defenseman Paul Martin said.
Winger James Neal thought the Penguins executed fairly well, at least until the B’s made it 2-0 early in the third period.
“We want to come out of the zone as a five and everyone being an option,” Neal said. “I think once we got down 2-0 the focus was gone and we tried running around doing different things. We got away from our game a little bit.”