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Insider Only Post-Game 6 Analysis: Pressure is on the Penguins “Big Three” to deliver in game 7

*For the second time in three games, Sidney Crosby mentioned in his post-game comments that the Penguins let the Canadiens “hang around” as Pittsburgh was unable to put the game away in the second period when they completely dominated the game through the first thirty minutes and held a 2-1 lead.
After the Canadiens battled back and took over game 6 en route to a 4-3 victory, the have clearly earned the respect of the Penguins.
There was minimal frustration coming out of the Penguins locker room and instead a lot of the talk was about the respect the Penguins have for the Canadiens and even a few mentions about how the Canadiens are not a normal No. 8 seed. The Penguins at least talked like they are poised heading into game 7 and not rattled.
*As the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for a game 7 showdown, the pressure is on Pittsburgh’s Big Three of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc Andre Fleury to deliver and it should be. The Penguins are built through these three and the Big Three are paid among the top players at their positions to deliver in game 7 type of situations.
Sidney Crosby stepped up his game last night with a two point performance and he’s going to have been even better in game 7. Evgeni Malkin has been very good over the past three games but has just three points in the series and zero even strength points. That’s not good enough for a player of his caliber.
Marc Andre Fleury’s play has been inconsistent and through six games the Canadiens are getting the better goaltending. His ability to bounce back after losses is nice but Fleury has yet to put together two straight dominant games which is why this series is now going seven.
He has been mediocre in the playoffs which has to be a concern and on a game to game basis, the Penguins don’t know what their getting out of him. The bright spot for Pittsburgh though is that Fleury is 15-5 after a playoff loss and has won six straight.
*The Penguins struggled defensively against the Canadiens quick transition game in game 6. The Canadiens made some much needed adjustments and were attacking with authority and forcing the Penguins defensemen to back in which created some miscues from Pittsburgh’e end as positional wise the the Penguins were not solid.
*Anyone looking for Jay McKee to get back in the lineup don’t count on it.

The coaching staff remains fully committed to Alex Goligoski and Jordan Leopold and there will be no changes on Pittsburgh’s end.
There are some evaluators who feel that Jay McKee is even a better partner for Goligoski but the Penguins clearly don’t see it that way.
*Head coach Dan Bylsma see’s Pittsburgh expierence in game 7’s as a strength and for Bylsma it’s all about getting mentally refocus. After all the Penguins won the biggest game 7 that you could win last post-season.
“The experience is a good thing to draw upon and we have that from previous, but now it is all down to one game and they have that as well from Round 1 in a similar situation on the road,” Bylsma said. “I’m not going to give any team an upper hand in that regard. They have experience and we have experience.
“This is one game to see who goes to the Eastern Conference finals. They have experience and they are going to go back and talk about their Game 7 against Washington. We have to mentally refocus and regroup and go back to Mellon Arena and put our best game out for Game 7.”
The Penguins this afternoon are having an optional skate.

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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