PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS MONTREAL CANADIENS
THE PAINT CAN. PITTSBURGH, PA
7:00 PM EST. ATTTSN
The Penguins now go from Brooklyn back to Pittsburgh to get ready to play yet another team that will not be dancing in the postseason. Tonight is all about Sullivan having enough control over this group of players to have them ready to go tonight as dropping back-to-back games to middle of the pack teams is not a good look 2 weeks before the playoffs. Following the loss last night and the Blue Jackets inability to lose since acquiring Cole (that’s a joke) the Penguins have suddenly lost their 4 point lead for second in the division:
If you are the type that freaks out after every game based on the standings the next 9 games might not be for you. If you’re a fan of watching the game while simultaneously checking your phone and having another game streaming on your computer then the next 9 games are just for you. The Pens still have 2 games against the Devils and 1 against each of the other 3 playoff bound Metro teams coming up making me captain obvious when I say that they don’t want to leave opportunities like tonight without points. Maybe they should try the Philly method of losing every game in overtime to get some extra points?
The Penguins could get into the playoff spirit tonight considering a win will eliminate Montreal from playoff contention. The Canadiens have once again failed to execute for their city but their fans will remind you that they have like 100 cups from when there were 2 teams in the league. It’s cute and all but
I wouldn’t expect any changes to the Penguins lineup tonight except for DeSmith in net. I would expect to see a good amount of line shuffling by Sullivan as he is still looking for the perfect combinations heading into the playoffs. After being shutdown for most of the night in the neutral zone last night I feel like a big focus of tonight will be on the breakout as the team will try to get back to their game and attack plan.
WHO TO WATCH
FOR PITTSBURGH: PITTSBURGH
In his post game interview Mike Sullivan was direct and to the point when asked questions about the Penguins inconsistency and if it is troubling this late int he season. Obviously with travel and less than 24 hours there isn’t a lot of time to correct things before this game but there is time to light a fire under the team. Tonight it is all about the leaders on this team leading by example to show that half assed efforts aren’t going to cut it. Tonight it is about the way this group of Penguins respond to adversity, because as we know that response is what makes or breaks championship bound teams. The coaches can coach but at the end of the day it comes down to the players to execute. Tonight they have a great opportunity to show that they believe in who they are and what they can accomplish.
FOR MONTREAL: PITTSBURGH
The Canadiens season can end tonight if the Penguins win in any form or fashion. This should be used as a perfect motivating factor for the Penguins and they should be thirsty to put up 7 against Niemi and the Canadiens tonight. The reason I chose “Pittsburgh” as the who to watch for Montreal because everytime the Canadiens have the puck we should be seeing a Penguins player suffocating them. When the forecheck is playing this style everything else falls into place for the Pens, if you see the Canadiens getting away with easy zone exits then it is going to be another disappointing night for the Penguins.
Losing last night was predictable when you consider the Penguins are historically awful when they have more than 2 days rest. The way the team responds tonight will be the most important factor going forward into this final stretch of games. Now is hopefully when the Pens will start to simplify their game, make the short successful passes through the neutral zone instead of the elaborate 100 foot prayers that we see when they feel pressured. The rest of the Metro (those that matter at least) are off tonight meaning everyone except the Caps will have 74 games played by the end of the night, the Penguins have a chance to get a full game ahead of Columbus with a win, now they just have to execute.