Penguins @ Lightning (Series tied, 1-1
When: 7:30 p.m. | Where: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
Some Pre-Game tidbits
— The series shifts to Tampa Bay tonight in a pivotal Game 3. This is a response game for a Penguins team that was embarrassed on home ice in Game 2. Pittsburgh is 9-1 in their last 10 Game 3’s.
— Can the Penguins get away with another poor start? Most likely not. The team dodged a bullet in game 1 with how well Marc Andre Fleury played but in Game 2 Fleury was not strong and unable to bail out a Penguins team that was plagued by continuous defensive breakdowns.
A growing concern for the Penguins: Dating back to the final regular season game between the two teams, Tampa Bay has been the more dominant team during the first period, scoring 2 or more in two of the three games.
The Lightning have scored the first goal in their last 4 meetings with Pittsburgh.
— Temperatures are in the mid 80’s and there were concerts on Saturday and Sunday over the weekend. The ice could be a factor in tonight’s game.
— With Steven Stamkos in a 2-month long funk, Lightning head coach Guy Boucher is relying heavily on veterans Vincent Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis. Don’t look for that to change tonight.
— The Lightning are expecting adjustments from the Penguins. One area will be on the forecheck.
“We’re expecting them to make some adjustments, ” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “We’re making adjustments. That’s the nature of the game.”
Based on practice leading up to tonight’s game, Pittsburgh looks to combat the Lightning’s 1-3-1 with a few different fore-checking systems, most notably a more aggressive forecheck with 2 players chasing the puck.
— Among the keys for Pittsburgh tonight is rebound games from the likes of Kris Letang, Jordan Staal, Paul Martin and even Marc Andre Fleury. However, if the Penguins get a victory tonight, I see Chris Kunitz and Tyler Kennedy breaking out and coming up big on the top line.
The odds though don’t point to Kennedy being a factor tonight. He has 0 points in his last 13 playoff games.
— Here’s an alarming stat regarding Kris Letang. He has no goals in his last 27 games and hasn’t collected an even strength goal in 58 games.
— After giving the Lightning 6 power play opportunities in Game 2, the Penguins are stressing a more disciplined game tonight. That remains to be seen as the Penguins have been one of the most undisciplined teams all season.
“The composure and focus we showed in Game 1 was not there in Game 2 and it caused not only to give them power plays but also for us to get off playing our game for large portions of that game, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It’s something we have to be better at.”
— Here’s one head scratcher regarding the Penguins personnel on their top power play unit. James Neal has 1 goal in his last 22 games and has not scored a power play goal in 34 games.
— No lineup changes are expected from the Penguins, at least none are expected upfront.