For the second time in three years the Bruins are going to the Stanley Cup Finals. And I still cannot believe how they got there, by sweeping the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tuukka Rask and the Bruins only allowed the Penguins to score 2 goals. This was a team that scored 3.4 goals per game in the regular season, and had been scoring 4.3 goals per game in the playoffs. Then they scored 2 goals in 4 games.
The Penguins' power play had a 28.3% success rate in the playoffs before this series. The Bruins successfully killed all 15 penalties in this series.
Sidney Crosby scored 3 goals in Pittsburgh's series with the Islanders, then 4 more against Ottawa. He had 15 postseason points before this series. He finished the series with 15 postseason points. He was -2 with 13 shots on goal.
Evgeni Malkin had 16 postseason points before facing the Bruins. He still has 16. He was -5 in the series, with 21 shots on goal, all saved by Rask. He only managed to get 1 shot off in Game 4.
Rask and Zdeno Chara shut down the Penguins. They absolutely and completely silenced Pittsburgh's big guns, their medium guns, and their little guns. Iginla had 0 points and was -4. Letang had 0 points and was -5. Morrow disappeared with his 0 points and only 1 shot on goal. James Neal took 20 shots but had no points and was -7.
Iginla decided not to end his season in Boston, but that's exactly what happened.
Chara's stats don't tell the full story. He had 0 points, but was +5. He played 119 minutes. That's 2 hours of hockey against Crosby, Malkin, and the best offense in the NHL. And he was +5.
Now the most impressive statline, that of Tuukka Rask...
275 minutes and 19 seconds in net, 2 goals allowed, 136 shots faced, 134 saves, 2 shutouts. That's a .985 save percentage. That's 1 goal allowed every 67 shots. His GAA was 0.44. That's absurd. Less than half a goal every 60 minutes. In the playoffs Rask has a .943 save percentage, and a GAA of 1.75. And since Game 4 against the Rangers when he allowed a few soft goals past him, he's only allowed 3 goals in 5 games.
He's officially a contender for the Conn Smythe. Depending on what happens in the next round.
It looks like the Bruins will face Chicago in the first Original Six Stanley Cup Final since 1979.
I can't wait.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa