Entering the 2013 Eastern Conference Final, the Boston Bruins needed to win at least one game away from TD Garden to even have a chance at advancing to the Stanley Cup Final. Entering Game 2 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Bruins have already accomplished that goal. Now, the team hopes to build upon their odds with a second victory at Consol Energy Center on Monday night.
However, the Penguins lineup is full of offensive firepower, which will make a duplication of Boston's 3-0 Game 1 victory a difficult endeavor.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien anticipates that Pittsburgh will have an improved performance on Monday night.
"I expect them to be better," Julien said to reporters after morning skate. "Any time you lose a game in your own building, and also being the team they are, they're going to be better. We expect that."
Through their first 11 games in the playoffs, Pittsburgh had been held to fewer than four goals in only two contests. The team scored less than three goals only once. In Game 1, the team had opportunities that were stifled by hitting posts. In addition, Boston's penalty kill managed to negate all four Pittsburgh power plays.
Entering Monday night's game as the top-active power play unit remaining in the playoffs (26 percent success rate), Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was encouraged by the specialty unit's performance in Game 1.
While it didn't result in production, Bylsma is pleased with the effort.
"You look at the chances we did have and the two posts that we did hit," he said. "I think in a lot of ways you look at the power play not always in terms of goals, but your output and scoring chances and opportunities and I think we got some of those."
What will be interesting to see heading into Game 2, is whether the offense-against-defense dynamic will still hold true. In the first meeting, Boston's stifling defense proved to be the superior to Pittsburgh's explosive offense. If the Bruins win a second game in that manner -- in Pittsburgh, no less -- it would seemingly be the primary explanation for the team's commanding lead in the series.
When Bylsma was asked about this dynamic in the form of comparison to NHL teams from earlier eras of the game, he explained that the Penguins philosophy was not to ignore the defensive component of the game in order to produce offense.
"When you look at those teams, they weren't all that concerned about the number of goals the opposition got and that's something that couldn't be farther from where we want to play at while we've been able to get mass goals during the regular and postseason," Bylsma said. "It's not something we anticipate. We don't anticipate going out and scoring 4.16 goals against the Boston Bruins."
Boston enters Monday night having allowed the fewest average goals against per game of any other Eastern Conference team this postseason (2.15). While Bylsma downplayed his team's propensity for a run-and-gun style, it still appears as though that is their forte. Bylsma vaguely addressed that he is always thinking about scenarios that pertain to game situations. Whether he is making any adjustments to the team's game plan remains to be seen.
What is clear, however, is the Penguins hope to travel to Boston with a tied series. In order to do so, they will obviously need to increase their goal total from Game 1.