By Michael Parente
Three games in, and I’m demanding my money back. Who do I talk to about getting a refund for this disaster otherwise known as the NHL Eastern Conference Finals?
I was promised goals on top of goals by the high-octane Penguins. Instead, I’ve gotten two goals, three losses and zero chance of seeing Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Without a horse in the race (the Rangers already ruined hockey for me way worse than Slap Shot 3 ever could), all I wanted was a competitive, evenly-matched series pitting the powerful Penguins against the defensive-minded Bruins, who rallied from near death against Toronto three weeks ago and haven’t looked back since.
The same Penguins who led the league in scoring and had already scored nine more goals than anyone else in the postseason entering this series have only scored twice in the first three games, which is even more pathetic when you consider last night’s Game 3 went to double overtime before Boston won it on yet another soft goal against Tomas Vokoun.
Spare me the comparisons to the 2010 Bruins, who coughed up a 3-games-to-none lead against Philadelphia in the playoffs. This one’s over. When you consider the odds, even a team as talented as Pittsburgh has little to no chance of winning four in a row, not with Game 4 Friday night being played back in Boston in front of a crown already fired up from watching Greg Campbell help kill a crucial power play in the third period with a broken leg. No city rallies around insignificant events more than Boston, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few leeches wearing “Campbell Strong” shirts at Game 4. The Penguins might as well use their Southwest points to book an early flight back to Pittsburgh tonight.
Let’s not harp solely on what the Penguins have done wrong. Tuuka Rask, one of the focal points entering this series, has been phenomenal. He stopped 29 shots in a Game 1 shutout and saved a remarkable 53 last night in the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime win. The Penguins have gotten their share of shots, which we all figured they would, but Rask has been damn near impenetrable, and that’s been the difference in this series. While the Penguins still have no idea who they should start in net on a day-to-day basis, the Bruins have the hottest goalie in hockey outside of Jonathan Quick.
The only people who’ve gotten their money’s worth in this series are Bruins’ fans, which is really all that matters. The Bruins are just too good and too hot right now to fall in line with what the storylines suggest should happen. Another Finals’ appearance is a foregone conclusion. Let’s hope the next round is worth the price of admission.
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