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Insider Only Pens Playoff Buzz: Post-season play of Lucic, Horton among reasons Bruins would be serious threat to Pens; Can Jokinen re-emerge as factor in the lineup?

940-penguins-senators-6colGAME 4 BUZZ

Going up 3-0 in the playoffs just takes the life out of the team in the 0-3 hole. The Penguins missed that opportunity Sunday night by letting Game 3 slip out of their hands with a breakdown late in regulation. “Obviously we let this one slip away,” goaltender Tomas Vokoun said. “Getting scored on on our power play with 30 seconds, sometimes you have to go through adversity and this is ours.”
This series could still only go five games but the Penguins have now made this series tougher than it needed to be by not closing out Game 3 when they could.
The Senators aim to tie the series up at 2-2 tonight and the buzz in Ottawa is that the Senators overtime win has them getting their swagger back that they had in the first round against Montreal. They know they have to get a win tonight to have much chance of knocking off the favorite Penguins in the series.
The Penguins, though, are 7-2 in their past nine Game 7’s.
By contrast, in the other Eastern Conference semi-finals series, the Boston Bruins have taken a 3-0 series lead against the New York Rangers after a 2-1 win in Game 3. In the final month of the regular season, the Penguins emerged as the clear favorite over the Bruins in the East, but things have changed to this point.
A Penguins – Bruins Eastern Conference Finals matchup would be a “tossup” to me. In evaluating the Bruins this post-season, the play of David Krejci, leads the NHL in playoff points with 16, obviously stands out but when asking around about the Bruins, scouts are bringing up the play of Milan Lucic (3G-7A-10Pts-+10) and Nathan Horton (4G-5A-9Pts-+14) in regards to the two finally getting to their games in the post-season as big reasons the Bruins are back to being a top Cup contender in the East and a serious threat to the Penguins were the two teams meet in the Eastern Conference finals.
When Horton and Lucic are playing up to their ability like they are right now, Boston boasts one of the top lines in hockey in Lucic – Krejci – Horton.
CAN JOKINEN RE-EMERGE AS A FACTOR IN THE LINEUP?
Jussi Jokinen has been a healthy scratch for five straight playoff games but when you breakdown the Penguins group of forwards, without question Jokinen is one of the Penguins top-12 forwards.
The issue for the Penguins was always going to be finding a successful role for Jokinen when Sidney Crosby returned. In his first 11 games (10 regular season, 1 post-season) as a Penguin, Jokinen had 7 goals and 13 points, all while playing a top-2 line center role with Sidney Crosby sidelined due to a broken jaw.
In his last three games, Games 2, 3, and 4 of the Islanders series, all with Sidney Crosby in the lineup, Jokinen had no points, a minus-1 rating and just 1 shot on goal.

Jokinen has good defensive instincts and faceoff ability to play a 4th line center role but he’s still a skilled player who needs to play with skilled players in a top-9 role to be a big factor on the ice.
That seemed to prompt Jokinen getting demoted last series in favor of the grittier Joe Vitale who is more suited for a 4th line role.
With the need for a better faceoff man in the left faceoof circle, Bylsma is turning back to Jokinen in a 4th line center role tonight, as he has not been happy with Vitale’s performance on faceoffs this series. Vitale was scratched in Game 3 in favor of Tanner Glass.
Glass coming out of the lineup tonight for Jokinen, though, is no sure thing as Brenden Morrow is iffy to play tonight.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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