The Penguins' offense is getting a lot of attention in the buildup to this series, and rightly so. It leads the playoffs in goals scored, and the Bruins also have four quality lines and scored 3.2 goals per game in the second round against an elite goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist.
Pittsburgh is not as deep or talented defensively as the Rangers and its goaltending is significantly worse, so there will be plenty of opportunities for Boston to score goals in this series. The Bruins rank second in goals scored (38) during the playoffs.
Boston also has the defensive skill to prevent the Pittsburgh offense from having the same success it did against Ottawa in the second round.
Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, who form the best shutdown duo in the NHL, will likely be assigned to defend the Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Jarome Iginla trio, while reigning Frank J. Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron will likely match up against Sidney Crosby's line.
"With Pittsburgh, you’ve got to shut down more than a few players—I’m going to say even more than three and four," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien on Thursday.
"They come in bunches. I think that’s the respect that you have to have for that team, knowing that every time you’re on the ice, don’t think it’s going to be an easy shift. If you don’t pay attention to your game defensively, it’s going to end up costing you, but if you do, you may end up in some good offensive opportunities.
"I’ve said all along, we thrive, our offense thrives on how good a defense we play. When we turn pucks over, that’s when we become dangerous."
The Bruins ranked third in GAA during the regular season and gave up an average of 2.67 goals in their three matchups with the Penguins prior to the playoffs.
Boston won't completely shut down the Pittsburgh offense because of its depth and talent on all four lines, but the Original Six club is better equipped to defend this kind of opponent than any other team in the NHL.
The Penguins have not yet faced an opponent in this year's playoffs that scores a lot of goals, defends well consistently and has an elite goaltender.
The New York Islanders had an impressive offense (seventh-highest scoring team in regular season) but were awful defensively and got poor goaltending in Round 1 versus the Penguins.
The Ottawa Senators were a good defensive team with strong goaltending for most of the year, but they finished 27th in scoring during the regular season and averaged just 2.2 goals per game against Pittsburgh in Round 2.
Boston, much like Los Angeles, is a complete team that has very few weaknesses with an experienced roster that is built for the rigorous, physical play of the postseason. The Bruins will win this series in six games and reach the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons.