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Cullen: Bruins shut down, sweep Penguins

Scott Cullen
6/8/2013 1:44:50 AM
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The Boston Bruins won Game Four, 1-0, sweeping the favoured Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final.

Boston held Pittsburgh, the league's highest-scoring team, to two goals in the four-game whitewash. Bruins G Tuukka Rask stopped 134 of 136 shots faced in the four games, good for a .985 save percentage.

The lone goal in the deciding game was scored by Bruins D Adam McQuaid, a defensive defenceman who scored one goal in 32 regular season games and now has two in 16 playoff games this year. Boston's defence has made a habit of jumping into the play offensively, scoring 15 goals so far in the postseason. Los Angeles and Pittsburgh are tied for second in goals from defencemen in the playoffs, with eight.

Boston's balanced attack got contributions from their top two lines. Nathan Horton led the Bruins with five points in the series, and David Krejci, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each had four.

As much as the story of the series was Rask and the Bruins' domination, the flip side was that the Penguins' star-laden offence was silent. D Paul Martin, with two assists, was the only Penguin with more than a single point. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were both held off the scoresheet in all four games.

The last time Sidney Crosby went four games without a point was a five-game stretch in November, 2009. The last time Malkin went four consecutive games without a point occurred in late December, 2009 through early January, 2010.

The superstars were held off the board, but they obviously weren't alone. Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, James Neal and Kris Letang were also blanked. That means that Pittsburgh's top four playoff scorers (Malkin, Letang, Crosby and Iginla) were shut down. The Penguins' power play was 0-for-15 in the series, the only time all season that they went four straight games without scoring a power play goal.

However unlikely it may have been going into the series for Pittsburgh to get ousted so easily, that was the result and it will likely result in some soul-searching. There have already been rumours that Malkin could be a trade target, as out of this world as that sounds. It's hard to imagine the Penguins being better without Malkin to work in tandem with Crosby down the middle, but any trade would depend on what the Penguins received in return. It's not easy to get equal value, to be sure, but it's not impossible.

But those are questions to be answered in the summer, and I'll surely get to a Penguins Off-Season Game Plan in due time.

As for the Bruins, they escaped by the thinnest of margins against Toronto in Round One, but they've been an unstoppable freight train since. They've been one of the best possession teams in the league through the regular season and the playoffs. Combined with superior goaltending, that's a winning combination.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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