The Pittsburgh Penguins are 60 minutes from their sixth trip to the Stanley Cup Final. After a blowout win in Game 5, the Penguins are hoping to end the series early and get five days rest before facing the surging Nashville Predators. A win tonight will also avoid an always potentially-calamitous Game 7.
A win will not be easy and it will not be given.
The Penguins were down 3-2 in last year’s Eastern Conference Final. All that Ottawa has left, all that they have, will hit the ice, tonight. They too are fighting for a chance at the Stanley Cup.
The Pens are 2-2 in elimination games. However, Bryan “The Executioner” Rust was a rocket in Game 5. And this is a chance to end Ottawa’s season….
The Ottawa Senators have a regimented system, the vaunted 1-3-1 trap, which the Penguins have been able to solve in this series. The Penguins have found offensive zone time in large chunks by keeping the puck in the offensive zone, but winning puck battles when chipping it in, and an energetic forecheck. (See Wilson, Scott. Rowney, Carter).
Will the Senators rely too heavily on the system and play to avoid mistakes OR will they be able to play as aggressively as they did in Game 3?
The Senators mindset will go along way toward the outcome. Play tight and the Penguins are headed to Music City. YeeHaw! Play disciplined but aggressive and they have a chance.
Boucher told the world–We know they’re a better team. Everybody on the planet knows their a better team.
He did the same in the Rangers series, but this time it feels different. Then it was a challenge. Now, it feels like…the truth.
So, that must be great for the Sens battered confidence. Ottawa fans were not pleased. One also must wonder if that depressed ticket sales ahead of Game 6. Would you spend $250 to see your team lose to a better team?
Boucher was clearly trying to keep the Game 5 blowout in perspective, but he probably went too far.
Andy’s Short Side
Olli Maata has used Craig Anderson’s short side like a piggy bank. Maatta has scored the opening marker in the last two games by beating Anderson to the blocker side. Neither was a great shot.
The Senators are not built to open up and come back on the Penguins. Especially the Penguins; a team with killer instict which pushes even harder when their opponent is on the ropes.
Anderson will need to be brilliant. And he’ll need help. The Senators defense has been far more adept at nearly decapitating Penguins forwards than keeping them from the slot, in the last two games.
The Matt Murray Penguins are a different team. They’re able to lock down the defensive zone as well as forecheck, relentlessly. The team did neither in front of Marc-Andre Fleury.
Murray’s steady nature and fresh legs should add a steady block for the Penguins, in enemy territory.
Murray will need to be good–Mark Streit is still part of the third pairing. Ottawa will get chances.
No Justin Schultz, who hoped to play, no Patric Hornqvist, Tom Kuhnhackl or Chad Ruhwedel.
5 days off sure would help this team. Actually, 5 days at home would help me too!
Dan Kingerski: Bryan Rust has a goal and an assist. Malkin/Kessel get on the scoresheet via power play. Penguins 4-2. Murray makes two 10-bell saves in the first period. And maybe just maybe, someone answers for Wingels thuggery.
Mike Necciai: 4-1 Pens, with an empty netter and Prince of Wales countdown….
More added as they trickle in….
If you haven’t yet–READ John Steigerwald’s piece on the Wingels hit and his solution