WILMINGTON, Mass. -– Don’t expect Claude Julien or his Bruins to be overwhelmed simply because they’re playing the underdog role in a playoff series for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup two years ago.
The Penguins are the favorite to win the Eastern Conference Finals, and the Stanley Cup for that matter. They boast even more offensive firepower than the Canucks team that Boston faced off against two years ago for the Cup, averaging an NHL-best 4.27 goals per game during the postseason. They also have what’s likely to be the Hart Trophy winners of the last two years in Evgeni Malkin (2011-12 winner) and Sidney Crosby (the favorite for this season’s award).
The Bruins witnessed the awesome destructive force of the Penguins when they dropped 26 goals on the Senators in their five-game series. It’s difficult not to be impressed by that, and it’s the reason Milan Lucic called the Penguins “the Miami Heat of the NHL.”
But the Bruins also know that there won’t be much pressure on their shoulders knowing that very few people around the NHL actually expect the Black and Gold to come out victorious in this series.
“It’s different when people look at it from the outside rather than what we look at inside the dressing room,” said goalie Tuukka Rask. “We try to start every series with a clean sheet where there are no underdogs and no favorites. It doesn’t really matter to us, but at least maybe people aren’t piling the pressure on us.”
But the Bruins have their own swagger after vanquishing the Maple Leafs and Rangers in the first two rounds of the playoffs, carrying 17 players from their Cup-winning team two years ago.
Facing down the heavily-favored Penguins isn’t something the Bruins will shy away from.
“I’m one of those guys where you’ve got to relish challenges. You can’t fear them. Bring ‘em on,” said coach Claude Julien. “That’s what our whole team’s demeanor is going to be. We know it’s a big challenge, but bring it on.
“We’re ready for it, and we’ll give it everything that we have. Hopefully that will be enough to win a series.”
The B’s will obviously have to wait a few days to "bring it" to the Penguins as they’d like to, but it sounds like they’ll be ready when their number is called.