BOSTON (KDKA) - The Pittsburgh Penguins have their backs against the wall trailing 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Game 4 is tonight and a loss sends this loaded roster to an early summer.
There is no sense in worrying about what the roster might look like next season or what the coaching staff might look like either at this point. There’s a game to be played tonight. Win and stay alive for one more day, lose and then worry about the other things.
Is the task at hand impossible? In the literal sense of the word - no it’s not.
There is a chance the Penguins could come back from this deficit and march on to the Stanley Cup Finals. Sure, it may be unlikely, but there are some things to keep in mind.
The Penguins have only scored two goals in this series. Two. That’s it.
This same Penguins team averaged over four goals a game through the first two rounds. You have to give Boston’s defense and goaltending credit, but the Penguins are due to break out. Look at how many posts they’ve hit in this series. If a couple of them go in, this could be a tighter series.
Pittsburgh’s big guns haven’t even recorded a point in the series. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been shut down, but both played their best games of the series in Game 3. If those two can get it going, anything is possible.
Am I grasping at straws here? Maybe, but the point is simple. It’s not over until it’s over and rather than focus on what’s gone wrong in this series, focus on what could change.
The Penguins were better in Game 3, but they still weren’t at their best. When this team is on their game, they are tough to stop.
The time to raise their level of play and get contributions from their stars is now. If they don’t, the players and fans will be left wondering what could have been.
Keys To Victory
A major factor in Boston’s lead in the series is how they have outworked the Penguins. Pittsburgh needs to win races to 50/50 pucks in every zone. This is especially true in the defensive end. The Penguins have gotten pinned in deep because of losing these races, in addition to turnovers. Get the puck and get out of the zone quickly to start the counter-attack.
Pittsburgh is the desperate team in this situation and they need to play like it.
Get Pucks Behind Rask
This may sound incredibly obvious, but the fact remains. Tuukka Rask is dialed in. It’s going to take crashing the net for rebounds to beat him right now. The muckers and grinders on the Penguins need to do a better job of finding those loose pucks around the crease and bury them. The Penguins did a better job of getting pucks on net in Game 3, but there weren’t many secondary chances. Get traffic in front, find the rebounds and bribe Rask’s metal friends if you have to.
Score The First Goal
The Penguins have yet to hold a lead in this series. Boston has taken a very early lead in each of the last two games, which has allowed them to drop back into a more defensive posture. One way to keep Boston honest is to score first. As the game wears on, Boston will have to start taking chances offensively to try and tie it up. The Penguins have been chasing the lead all series. It’s time to turn the tables and get Boston out of their game.
The puck is set to drop at 8 p.m. and you can watch the game on the NBC Sports Network.
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