Pens Need a Bounce-Back Performance

Sidney Crosby
Crosby must be more of a threat than he was in game one.

For Los Angeles, it was nothing completely new as the Kings have won on the road only once in their last 12 games while for Pittsburgh, it was the first time they’ve been shutout in the post-season this year. For both the Kings and Penguins, they may only face 1-0 deficits but those are pretty steep hills when you really consider it.

In Chicago, the Kings faced the prospect of going home down 2-0 to the top seed in the Western Conference who proved they could go on the road and win in tough places as they did in Detroit. For the Pens, another loss means they would have to win four of the final five games and three of those would be in Boston. Neither team would but out of it by any stretch should they go down 2-0, but the odds of coming all the way back over the final five games would be significant.

While the Kings will know their fate by the time this goes to press this morning, the Penguins will not as they play tonight in the Steel City.

Boston at Pittsburgh (Bruins lead series 1-0) – I thought Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke, booted from game one for an illegal hit, made the most telling statement following the team’s loss. He said, “I think anytime you see Evgeni Malkin fighting he’s away from his game. Emotions are high.” No one could have been happier about such a statement than the Boston Bruins.

Tuukka Rask
Rask was brilliant in game one.

The Bean-towners knew they had Pittsburgh in trouble when goalie Tuukka Rask was stopping everything and was getting help from the post as well. Throw in the fact they had Malkin off his game and Sidney Crosby jawing with Zdeno Chara between periods and Boston had the Pens frustrated.

What Pittsburgh will do is chalk game one up to ‘just one of those games.’ They had several opportunities to get the puck past Rask but deflections, the posts and Rask himself were just too much for the most potent offense in the NHL. Offensively, the Penguins will need to get more traffic in front of Rask. When Cooke went out, one of their big forwards who can get in front of the net was gone too.

While I thought Malkin was pretty good Saturday night, I thought the Bruins did a masterful job on Crosby who was relatively absent for most of the game. That will have to change for Pittsburgh which means the Pens will need to pick up the fore-check which could get Crosby a little more freedom in the open ice.

For the Bruins, it is really quite simple. Continue to throw pucks at the net and make the Pens work on defense. I thought Tomas Vokoun was actually pretty good the other night, but he had little help in front of him on a couple of those goals in the 3-0 loss. If Richard Krecji keeps having the freedom that he had to roam the ice, then Pittsburgh is in big trouble.

Look for the Penguins to clamp down on him and limit the other Bruins’ offensive threats as well in an effort to limit the action in front of Vokoun.

The Penguins defeated the Bruins in all three games this year and I pointed that out in my preview that while there is something to be said about that, the Bruins are too good not to be taken seriously. Pittsburgh found that out the hard way. I look for the Penguins to bounce back in a big way tonight or else there could be serious consequences in Boston.