10 Things You Should Know about the Pens vs Bruins

By Ken Will for The PensNation
Twitter: PensNation_Ken

1] The Black and Gold

By now, every Pittsburgh fan knows that the original team colors were baby blue and white. The organization has brought back the blue for the two Winter Classic games where the Penguins were represented, and these would eventually become the teams’ third jerseys. The Penguins’ wore the blue and white until 1980, when the Penguins decided to make a change to honor the cities other sports teams. The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Steelers were both fresh off of championships, and the Penguins joined them in the ranks of the black and gold as a show of solidarity with the rest of the city.








The Boston Bruins had been a part of the National Hockey League since 1924, and had worn the black and gold since 1939. When they caught wind of the Penguins’ plan to adopt the same color scheme, they were furious. To the point where they actually petitioned the league and took the case to court. Pittsburgh eventually won the argument as their original NHL franchise wore black and gold as the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1924, fifteen years before the Bruins made their own change.


2] Fifth Playoff Meeting

The Penguins and Bruins have joined together for some pretty compelling playoff matchups over the years. 2013 will be the fifth time these two teams have met in the post season (1979, 1980, 1991, 1992). The Penguins’ have split these series with the Bruins 2-2, so this year will be a bit of a rubber match.

On April 8, 1980, with newly acquired Mark Johnson fresh off the US Olympic team’s “Miracle on Ice,” the Penguins and Bruins squared off in the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Things got off to a raucous start, and to no surprise, Mike Milbury (hint, this won’t be the last time we hear from him) and Ron Stackhouse were at the center of it all.

On April 14, 1980 the series would close just as it started. Special appearances by Ray Bourque and the Penguins’ Kim Clackson. Pittsburgh would lose the best of five series 3-2.

See, I told you the Bruins weren’t happy about the color change in 1980.

3] Jarome Iginla


When it was announced that Jarome Iginla would to be a healthy scratch for Calgary’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, Flames fans knew that March 27 was going to be a very long night. In Pittsburgh, the feeling was that Ray Shero was done–having acquired Dallas captain Brenden Morrow and San Jose defensemen Douglas Murray. The Bruins’ interest in Iginla was well-documented, and it was largely assumed that they would be the front runner for his services.

Shortly after midnight, on March 28, Aaron Ward reported that Jarome Iginla had been traded to the Boston Bruins. And TSN was swift to pickup his story:


As hockey fans went to bed, they tried to wrap their heads around the idea of seeing Iginla in the black and gold, and when they woke the next morning, they didn’t have to adjust the colors in their imagination. While they were sleeping, Bob McKenzie sent the tweet that seemed to wake everyone up just after 1:31 AM.



Boston fans were quick to become the first fan base to hate Jarome Iginla, as he had basically choose to play in Pittsburgh over Boston. It’s not unlike how Penguins’ fans felt about Marian Hossa after his decision to sign with the Detroit Red Wings for what he described as a better chance to win the Stanley Cup. The outrage was so strong in Boston, that Bruins’ general manager Peter Chiarelli held a press conference the following afternoon to make it clear that there was in fact a deal in place with Iginla, but that Iginla wouldn’t waive his no trade while there was a deal with Pittsburgh.

It’s safe to say that Bruins fans have had the idea of a Penguins/Bruins conference final in their minds ever since that night.

(Puck Drunk Love)

4] First Shift, First Shot, First Goal

It was the beginning of a new era of hockey in Pittsburgh, and Penguins’ fans had no idea how good it was about to get. But Mario Lemieux provided a bit of a preview in his NHL debut against the Boston Bruins. On his first shift of the game, Lemieux’s long reach forced Ray Bourque to turn the puck over at the blue line and then it was all Mario, streaking in alone from the left side and burying it behind goalie Pete Peters with his first ever shot to begin his hall of fame career.

Not to be outdone, Sidney Crosby repeated the feat for his first ever NHL goal against the Bruins. Though it take him a whole 38:32 into his third NHL game to find the twine.


5] Cam Neely and Ulf Samuelson

During Game Three of the 1991 Wales Conference Final, Penguins’ defensemen Ulf Samuelson lined up Bruins’ legend Cam Neely for an open ice hit that would be debated for the next 22 years. The knee on knee collision would be blamed for the early end to Neely’s career and Ulf Samuelson’s reputation as a dirty player would be cemented in time.


The backlash of the Samuelson hit on Neely was felt throughout the remainder of the series. Neely would continue to play, but Mike Milbury drastically altered his own game plan and labeled Penguins’ coach Bob Johnson as a “Profesor of Goonism.”

“The professor of hockey, as Bob Johnson is often called, is also a professor of goonism. They’ve drawn a line in the sand, or on the ice. Far be it from me not to accept the confrontation.” – Mike Milbury

The Penguins would take the series in six, rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the clinching game, before going on to win their first Stanley Cup in the next round against the Minnesota North Stars.

7] Back-To-Back Championships

In 1992, the Penguins would repeat their Wales Conference Championship with a sweep of the Boston Bruins. The highlight of the series was Mario Lemieux’s dramatic comeback after suffering a wrist injury when the New York Rangers’ Adam Graves slashed him in the previous round. Overall, the series didn’t have the same theatrics as 1991, but it was an important step en route to back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships. The Penguins would defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in the following round in what was yet another sweep. 2013 marks the third meeting of the Penguins and Bruins in the Conference Finals.

(Sports Illustrated)

8] They Have Great “Rules”

We’ve all seen this guy. Hell, with that hairstyle, it’s possible that this commercial may have been filmed in Pittsburgh. But you can’t deny that you’ve felt the urge to slap this person across this face with a fish. The one question that I have is why isn’t this bear representing the Bruins as their official mascot instead of this guy with the lazy eye:


9] Rene Rancourt Loves Tuxedos and Fistpumps

He’s the real life Ron Burgundy meets Rob Goulet. He’s a staple at whatever garden the Bruins happen to be playing at, and Boston fans love him. He’s been singing the anthem in Boston since 1976, and his career has spanned two buildings and seen one Stanley Cup Championship. One isn’t quite sure whether he belongs in Boston, or some 15-minute show in Las Vegas–but it’s pretty clear that he loves his job and has no plans of letting it go, despite his age of 73 years.

Here’s Rene warming up with Bruins’ organist Ron Poster.

10] April 20,2013

But as everything goes with hockey, this isn’t a rivalry that has produced strictly contempt. A display of solidarity was featured as the Penguins and Bruins matched up earlier this Spring. The game was originally scheduled for the previous evening, but was postponed with the city of Boston on lockdown as the manhunt for one of the suspects of the Boston Marathon Bombing was still in progress. Both teams were uncertain of the game’s status, but that was the last thing on anyone’s mind. When they reconvened the following afternoon, both teams wore patches in honor of the fallen and first responders.


Hats from the local emergency services were donned for the pre-game skate and for interviews.


But the most memorable moment came during the pre-game ceremony and National Anthem, as the fans in attendance joined in with singer Rene Rancourt:

goes to the Jaromir Jagr Factor.

(Awkward Sports)

When Jaromir Jagr signed with the Dallas Stars last July, Penguins’ fans thought they were done with Czech winger. But the trade deadline brought a new twist to the story, and Jagr will have one more playoff series against his former team. Emotions from both sides have been played up so many times since he departed Pittsburgh in a lopsided deal that sent Ross Lupashuk, Michael Sivek, Kris Beech and a wad of cash after declaring that he was “dying alive.” So much that at this point, they’ve pretty much run their course. But with the Eastern Conference Championship on the line, it won’t take much to reignite any ill-feelings that fans in Pittsburgh have toward Jagr.

At this point, I’d have to question whether or not the animosity toward Jagr is greater than the hatred that the Bruins’ fans have for Iginla.


What’s your favorite Penguins/Bruins memory? You can reach Ken on Twitter @PensNation_Ken