Bruins ready for Pens to be better in Game 2

Bruins ready for Pens to be better in Game 2
June 3, 2013, 11:00 am
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PITTSBURGH – While Boston will gladly thank Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby for trying to prove how tough they were in Game 1, the Bruins are not expecting the Penguins to treat Game 2 like a back-alley fight.

The Black and Gold know they’re going to receive Pittsburgh’s strongest effort so that the Penguins don’t fall down 0-2 in the best-of-seven series that will move to Boston for games at TD Garden on Wednesday and Friday night. That means Crosby, Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang and Co. should be focused on creating offense, generating power plays and turning hit posts from Game 1 into goals.

The fisticuffs and the nastiness Pittsburgh displayed on Saturday definitely caught some Bruins players by surprise, but they were more than happy to oblige when it meant putting players like Malkin and Chris Kunitz into the penalty box for potential power plays.

“I wasn’t really focused on that. Maybe it seemed that way,” said Daniel Paille, when asked if he was surprised about Pittsburgh coming after Bruins players. “We have some guys that are willing to do that, and we have some guys that aren’t willing to do that, like [Bergeron] did, and I think we got them off their game a little bit.

“But it’s going to be different in [Game 2]. We need to be smarter than that, and more prepared for them.”

Specifically, the Bruins defense and Tuukka Rask have to be prepared for whatever storm awaits them on Monday night, knowing that they’ve got the attention of the Penguins after giving them their first playoff shutout loss since an April 27, 2011. Crosby was a minus-2, won just 6-of-17 face-offs, and had four largely harmless shots on net in Saturday night’s defeat, spending more time whining to officials and slashing Bruins players than actually playing his game.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma admitted as much after Sunday’s optional practice in Pittsburgh, and it seems pretty clear his message to the team was something along the lines of “cut the crap and start playing.”

“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,” said Bylsma. “It's not something that we want to do, and I think it took away from our game. It certainly took away from our power play going into the third period.

“It's a fine line. The compete level needs to be extremely high. It's going to be against this team, the Boston team we're playing. We've got to do a better job of that. But at the same time, I think our compete level has to be even higher than it was the last game.”

What all of that means is Pittsburgh wants to play a saner game against the Bruins in Game 2 where their captain isn’t bumping goaltenders and slashing 6-foot-9 defenseman across the chest. Crosby’s prospects for a long playoff series aren’t very good if he continues down that pathway of acting like he’s Brad Marchand.

They say it’s not an official playoff series until the home team loses a game, and that’s already happened just one game into the best-of-seven series. There may be some lineup changes for the Penguins, like perhaps adding a little physicality in Deryk Engelland, but it’s more about a change in attitude for Pittsburgh.

The Penguins must prove that they’re not falling into the same trap they did last season against the Philadelphia Flyers, when Pittsburgh’s players got so preoccupied with the rough stuff that they ended up losing the playoff series.

David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Rask were all ready to answer the challenge in Game 1, and now they’ll have to be ready to raise their level of play right along with an angry group of Penguins who know they have to be smarter in Game 2.