I'm going to go out on a limb and suppose that most Islanders fans have a lot more hatred stored for the Penguins than they do the Bruins right now.
Even many of the old school fans who remember fierce, fierce battles with the Bruins in the late '70s have seemed to come around to, when push comes to shove, choosing the Bruins over the Entitled Penguins at this stage in NHL history.
So tonight's Game 2 clash of blacks and golds and golds and blacks and powder blues should is not without rooting interests here.
It's a pretty big one (they're all "big") since the Penguins dropped Game 1 at home and will not fancy heading to Boston in an 0-2 hole.
I expect a long series but by no means did I imagine it would be easy for the Penguins, who seem to be the favorites in most eyes and in those of Vegas.
For me, the variables shake out this way:
- Sidney Crosby will show up regardless. It's how the B's handle him and shut down the rest of the Pens.
- Patrice Bergeron will also show up, so his health is essential for the Bruins.
- Given that, things change a lot if Evgeni Malkin shows up (and no, by "show up" I don't mean fighting Bergeron). When Malkin is dominant, the Pens possess a lethal one-two punch that covers for their other intermittent and aging depth. When he gets distracted, the Hamonics of the world win.
- If the Bruins can take advantage of the Pens' non-Letang defense, they have a chance of putting goals up on Tomas Vokoun. If they put goals up on Vokoun, they have a chance of seeing Marc-Andre Fleury. Win-win.
When the Islanders faced the Penguins in the first round, I half-joking, half-seriously said the Isles would need to exploit Fleury enough to win games but not so much that they see Vokoun. Damn it. If the Bruins are able to ding the Pens' D so much that Pittsburgh gets desperate and goes back to Fleury, then another finals appearance is in their reach.
And you, dear reader?
P.S. No, Mike Milbury has not been named coach of the Rangers. Sorry if you were among those who missed the breadcrumbs that this unlikely dream was, well, just a dream.