I didn’t end up writing anything on Game 3 due to getting a late start on Thursdays, so here’s some pregame stuff to make up for it.
- Kaspars is in I had forgotten that Kaspars Daugavins played in Game 1 vs. Toronto, so he’ll get his second taste of playoff action with the Bruins tonight. Daugavins will be skating with Rich Peverley at center and Tyler Seguin at the other wing. This will be an interesting third line to watch, as Daugavins adds a bit of grit and sandpaper to an otherwise speed-based third line. Peverley is actually leading the Bruins in faceoff win percentage, as he’s won 65.2% of the 112 draws he’s taken in these playoffs, a somewhat surprising stat. Faceoffs were a surprising area of concern in Game 3, so let’s hope Peverley can keep up his winning ways. As for Daugavins, who knows what to expect? He hasn’t played in a game in over a month, so rust may be a factor. But I watched him play a pretty strong game in the final regular season game of the year against Ottawa. I think he’ll have a good night.
- What of the fourth line? With Chris Kelly taking the spot of Gregory Campbell between Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton, it’ll be interesting to see how the fourth line does. The trio now has two speed guys in Kelly and Paille and one bruiser in Thornton. Campbell’s penalty killing prowess will be missed, but this speedier fourth line could give Pittsburgh some problems.
- Last call for Caron? Jordan Caron is a restricted free agent at season’s end, and has been with the Bruins’ organization for three full seasons now, and has never really hit his stride. He’s got 71 NHL games under his belt, and an additional 111 AHL games with the Providence Bruins. Of the Black Aces, he’s by far the most familiar with the Bruins’ system…and yet he’s being passed over in favor of Daugavins. The “well Caron isn’t a center” argument doesn’t work, as neither is Daugavins. Peverley still could’ve gone to center with Caron on one of his wings. I can’t help but feel that Caron’s tenure with the Bruins may be up, as he’s been a good soldier down in Providence but has never really done much in the NHL. In his defense, he’s played decently enough in his two extended NHL stays, but the fact that the B’s would pass over him at this point is curious. I’m hoping he sticks around, as I’ve liked his game when I’ve seen him with the big club, but the big club itself may not feel the same.
- Will vs. skill The Penguins continue to believe that the reason they’re down 0-3 is because they are beating themselves, not because the Bruins are outplaying them. I can’t help but be reminded of the 2011 Cup Final, when the Vancouver Canucks expected the Bruins to just roll over and die after getting a 2-0 series lead. These Penguins appear to believe they’re entitled to the Stanley Cup, letting the media circus surrounding this collection of talent get to their heads. Their reaction to struggling in this series has been less “well, it’s time to work harder” and more “this isn’t right, but it’ll eventually go in our favor.” There’s talk of bounces not going their way and calls not going their way…but not of them simply getting outplayed. I’m hoping, obviously, that they continue this self-obsessed path right onto the golf course tomorrow. The Penguins are undoubtedly the most talented team remaining in these playoffs, but they also appear to be the most arrogant.
- So, what about tonight? It’s hard to say what tonight will bring. Logic says that the Penguins, who played their best game of the series on Wednesday night and still lost, will be deflated, tired, and beaten up. However, these guys are still professional athletes and have a lot of pride, so I don’t expect them to roll over at all. I think it’s important for the Bruins to weather the storm early. Pittsburgh will try to come out with a lot of jump to show that they still believe in themselves. If the B’s can hold off early, don’t be surprised if the Pens start trying to win four games with one play. That’s when mistakes will be made, and the Bruins can counterattack. I think the B’s take this one by a score of 3-1, with either the DaugMan or Peverley getting on the board.