Game 4 Series Buzz
Tonight’s Game 4 is going to be a fascinating one.
There are so many storylines that could or won’t play out.
You now also have some war of words starting with Phil Kessel calling Jay Beagle an “idiot” and so on.
Without Kris Letang and Matt Murray, the Penguins have continued to carry on, debunking all the numbers to be 6-2 in the post-season and with a 2-1 series lead over the President Trophy winners.
Now we get to find out if they can continue to go against the grain and survive without Sidney Crosby, the games best player, who has hands down also evolved into the best 200-foot player in the game over the last year and a half.
“He’s the best 200-foot player in the game in my estimation,” Mike Sullivan said of Crosby after his dominating two-way performance in Game 2. “He plays at both ends of the rink and he defends as well as he plays with the puck and creates.”
So everything now screams Capitals to win this series. If they continue to “pass each test” like Barry Trotz has alluded to after the Game 3 overtime win, then the next step would be flexing their muscles, taking advantage of a golden opportunity and beating the Penguins in all areas of the ice tonight.
But, it would so Washington to be unable to beat the Penguins this series with Pittsburgh not having their No. 1 defenseman, No. 1 goaltender and now losing the best player in the game.
For Pittsburgh, Game 3 showed nothing that the Penguins can’t still find a way to get two more wins. The blueprint was there.
They have to continue to get strong goaltending, kind of muck it up defensively in the neutral zone with structure and back pressure like they did well in Game 3 and be opportunistic offensively. There’s still guys in that lineup who just need one shot.
The noise now is Evgeni Malkin has to step up. The guy has 15 points in the playoffs so I’m not sure where that’s narrative coming from.
Outside of the likes of Malkin, Guentzel, Kessel and Bonino, you have to look at someone like Carl Hagelin who needs to step up his game in big way tonight.
Hagelin who was a major factor in last year’s second round series, has looked like regular season Hagelin through two games.
Hagelin is at 32% in driving possession, the Penguins are minus-5 in scoring chances when he’s on the ice.
— One area the Capitals plan to target tonight is Marc Andre Fleury’s rebound control. Washington has not been as successful as Columbus was in Fleury giving up juicy rebounds. They’ve done a poor job of getting in Fleury’s sight lines.
— Will Mike Sullivan’s optimism on Sidney Crosby back fire like when Dan Bylsma in 2011 said Crosby had a “minor concussion?
You never know, especially with Crosby’s history, but the Penguins feel c Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"