Well, it certainly wasn't supposed to be like this.
The Boston Bruins will attempt to sweep the Pittsburgh Penguins out of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night in Game 4 at TD Garden. It still feels very strange even typing. The Bruins were very good in Game 1, perfect in Game 2, and just good enough in Game 3. The Penguins were unlucky in Game 1 (and a little terrible in the third period), just awful in Game 2, and not good enough in Game 3 (though probably a bit unlucky). Patrice Bergeron had yet another big moment in double overtime of Game 3, and now it's a 3-0 series.
If there's any team talented enough to fight up the 3-0 hill, it's this Pittsburgh Penguins team, but it is going to be a challenge given how they are playing. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are without a point, the whole damned team has just two goals in three games, and Kris Letang and the Penguins defense have been simply unacceptably terrible in their own end.
They are talented enough offensively that, were they to get hot, it's not unquestionable that they could put up a fistful of goals on Tuukka Rask, but it doesn't seem bloody likely. Rask's goals against average is down to 1.85, with only Corey Crawford besting him. His .940 save percentage is the best in the playoffs. Oh yeah, the Bruins have 11 goals in three games in this series. The heads of the Penguins will be on the chopping block tonight.
Will the Bruins miss Gregory Campbell?
The Boston fourth line is often heralded as a catalyst for greater things with the Bruins, and tonight (and for the rest of the playoffs) they will be without their centerman. Kaspars Daugavins will likely draw in for Campbell, but will the Bruins' fourth line be anywhere near as effective? It's not likely, given Boston has the last change, but can the Penguins find a way to take advantage of Campbell's absence?
Will Pittsburgh be the better team for a second straight game?
The Penguins, after the early David Krejci goal, were the better team for much of that game. One could argue that based on Tomas Vokoun's performance alone, they deserved to win. The hockey gods were not kind to them. So really, how on earth do you react to a double-overtime loss like that and get yourself on the road to a miraculous comeback? What kind of Penguins team really shows up tonight?
Is Sidney Crosby going to go without a point in a series for the first time?
This would really be something. Crosby and Malkin and all of that talent, shut out. The Penguins not being screwed by their goaltending in a series, for once. How do you even react to something like that? Is Sid or Geno hurt or hiding some injury? Are the Bruins just that good defensively? There will be so many more questions should the game play out the way the first three have.
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, CBC