Bruins-Penguins: B’s Hope Third Time Is The Charm Vs. Pens In Conference Finals (VIDEOS)
The Bruins and Penguins will square off this week for the third time in the Wales Eastern Conference Finals. Boston hopes the end result will be much better than their first two encounters versus the likes of Mario Lemieux, Kevin Stevens, Mark Recchi and a very young Jaromir Jagr. The Bruins had their share of NHL stars with the likes of hall of famers Cam Neely and Ray Bourque, but the power of the conference was tilting towards Pittsburgh.
In the 1990-1 season, the Bruins were fresh from their second Stanley Cup Finals defeat in three years to the juggernaut Edmonton Oilers. However, Boston picked up where they left off with yet another strong regular season. They captured the Adams division with 100 points (44-24-12) led by Ray Bourque, Cam Neely & Craig Janney who all broke the 90 point plateau.
The Bruins had their hands full in the playoffs however. They defeated the Whalers in six games then squeaked out a series against Montreal in seven. Boston found themselves in their third Wales Conference Finals in four seasons. Their opponent would be the Patrick Division champions Pittsburgh Penguins (88 points).
The Pens were led by Mark Recchi (113 points) not Mario Lemieux in scoring. Lemieux missed all but 26 games in the regular season due to a reoccurring back injury. Besides Recchi, Pittsburgh was stockpiles with offensive punch. John Cullen, Kevin Stevens and Paul Coffey all broke 80 points. An 18 year old Jaromir Jagr pitched in with 57 points.
Pittsburgh disposed of the Devils in seven and the Capitals in five in the first two rounds. This pitted two Wales Conference super powers. The Penguins were looking to reach their first Stanley Cup Finals in team history. They knew they had to beat the best to be the best.
The Bruins had all the bounces go their way in the first two games. They doubled up Pittsburgh 6-3 in Game One and pulled out a 5-4 OT victory on a goal by Vladimir “Rosie” Ruzicka (1-4-5). The Bruins had a 2-0 series lead heading to Pittsburgh. Boston had all the momentum…..
Or so they thought.
Pittsburgh would go on to dominate the next four games. They posted back to back home 4-1 victories to knot the series at two. The Bruins hoped to rebound at home in Game 5, but everything that could possibly go wrong did. Mario Lemieux and Kevin Stevens led the offensive onslaught in route to a 7-2 blowout. The Pens saw the blood in the water and closed the Bruins out at home in Game 6, 5-3 after spotting Boston a 2-0 lead.
This was Pittsburgh’s first step in becoming a NHL super power. They would go on to defeat the Minnesota North Stars in six games to capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Championship.
The Bruins and Penguins would meet the following season in the Wales Conference Finals yet again. The Penguins were fueled by a healthier Mario Lemieux as he laid waste to the NHL. He posted a ridiculous 131 points in just 64 games. Kevin Steven also “pitched in” with 123 points of his own. Boston finished second in the Adams division and were led offensively by Ray Bourque and “Rosie” Ruzicka.
This re-match was far less competitive than their bout a year before. The Bruins fell short in Game One in Pittsburgh losing 4-3 in overtime, but the rest of the series was one side. The Penguins outscored the Bruins 15-4 in the last three games to reach back to back Stanley Cup Finals. Pittsburgh would go on to sweep Chicago for their second championship.
The Bruins would not reach the Conference Finals until 2011 where they went on to win their first cup in 39 years. The Penguins now owned by Mario Lemieux and led by Sidney Crosby reached back to back Stanley Cup Finals in 2007 & 2008. They would fall to Detroit 4 games to 2 but would win the re-match in seven games to capture their third cup.
Will the third time be the charm for the Bruins versus the Penguins?
We shall see….