Penguins  radio analyst Phil Bourque, a Chelmsford native, joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning, and while much of the talk was about why the Penguins have played so poorly in the series, he made no jokes about what he expects to happen next in the Eastern Conference finals.
“I believe we’re going back to Pittsburgh for Game 5,” Bourque said, echoing the thoughts of coach Dan Bylsma . “I believe you’re going to see the best out of the Pittsburgh Penguins . I think it’ll be another low-scoring, tight game, one-goal game, and it’s all about the breaks right now. It’s about who’s going to get the bounces, who’s going to get the breaks, who’s best players are going to step up and help the rest.”
“I fully believe we’re going back to Pittsburgh for five ‘ and then it’s game on. Then anything can happen. The seeds are planted.”
Bourque referenced two other series that could give the Penguins some encouragement: the Bruins-Flyers conference semifinals in 2010, during which Boston took a 3-0 lead before completely collapsing, as well as the AHL Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Providence Bruins and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Like in the NHL  version, the P-Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead. But then, without Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski, who were called up to Boston, Providence lost the next four games.
“In our eyes, the seeds are planted [if Pittsburgh wins Game 4]. You have a lot of players still here from 2010 for what happened with the Flyers, and we’re going to beat the drum of what happened with the Providence Bruins and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins,” Bourque said. “When games are very tight, we’ve hit some posts. And I know the Bruins have hit some posts, too, but one or two of those go in in a tight playoff series, tight playoff game, that can change a lot.”
The Penguins will need to fix what has plagued them the first three games ‘ namely, their defensive lapses and not trying to rush or force things in their offensive zone ‘ and their big-name players will need to play the way they are capable of.
“I’m not sure what it is, but we have not played even close to Penguin hockey yet this series,” Bourque said. “The Penguins stars have not shown up in this series yet. I think they’ve gotten pretty good goaltending for the most part, given them a chance. But defensively, that’s my biggest concern, our defensive lapses.”
Bourque credited the Bruins for playing “perfect road hockey” in the first two games in Pittsburgh and doing what they had to to squeak out a Game 3 win . Pittsburgh’s deficit is a combination of the Pens’ poor play and Bruins’ strong play, and Pittsburgh has yet to truly test goalie Tuukka Rask .
Bourque, who played eight seasons for the Penguins in the 1980s and early 90s, acknowledged that heads may roll in Pittsburgh, particularly if the Pens get swept, but he isn’t so sure coach Bylsma’s job is in danger either way.
Still, he expects the Penguins to make some noise before it’s all said and done. Jarome Iginla, who has nearly been invisible all series, could play a role in that.
“I’m at a loss of words,” Bourque said of the midseason acquisition. “I can’t believe that he hasn’t been a major factor in this series. Maybe we’ll see it [Friday] night. But he’s been uncharacteristically quiet. He had a couple of big hits in Game 3 when you thought he was going to really be the Jarome Iginla that everybody feared when they played against him. He’s been really, really quiet.
“On the Boston side I’m thinking, ‘Well, maybe this guy’s going to wake up tonight.’ ”