The Pittsburgh Penguins just concluded their afternoon practice as the team prepares for game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday night.
After going through an optional practice Sunday afternoon, the Penguins went through a full squad practice today.
Up 3-0 in the series, the Penguins are focused on ending the series Tuesday night and earning their second consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Lines in practice were
Kunitz – Crosby – Guerin
Fedotenko – Malkin – Talbot
Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
Dupuis – Adams – Satan
Winning 5 of 6 games when dressing seven defensemen, it is unlikely that head coach Dan Bylsma will alter his lineup.
According to my source on the scene the Penguins went through a number of flow drills, breakouts/regroups with an emphasis on their transition game and spent about 10 minutes working on the power play with unit 1 and unit 2 each getting reps at opposite sides of the ice.
Team quickness has been the major difference in the series between the two teams as the Hurricanes have not been able to match the Penguins team speed.
Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice
spoke about this very issue for the Hurricanes following the Canes practice which ended around 12:30 p.m.
Maurice added “We did a reasonable job off the rush in Game 1 and 2 but a very poor job in our own end and not a very good job off the rush in Game 3. They’ve attacked us where we’ve been weak in each game.
“Crosby, Malkin have speed, but Pittsburgh right now is a quick team and that has to do with nonverbal communication. It has to do with everybody moving or having a general idea of where that’s puck’s going, so they all get into that motion prior to it.
“To go further than that, I think they’ve worked hard defensively. So they work hard back to the puck, so that that their transition game is easier, which makes it faster and makes it look faster. They’ve got a lot of fast guys.”
For the Canes, three key forwards were missing from practice today The three were Tuomo Ruutu, Erik Cole and Scott Walker.
All three are battling injuries and Walker was getting treatment on his shoulder this morning prior to the Canes skate, sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
Team officials with the Hurricanes indicate both players are expected to play in game 4 but it’s clear that Ruutu and Cole are not 100%.
Team officials tell me the organization will have Alex Goligoski on a strict weight traning regiment this summer.
The team wants him to increase his strength in his lower body as he has struggled clearing the front of the net at both levels.
Hal Gill’s house in Shadyside is for sale right now as Gill leased the house for the past year. Gill is an impending free agent.
He has an interest in staying with the Penguins.
If the Penguins advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, they will only have about two weeks to sign any of their impending free agents before free agency begins July 1st.